What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder ~ Health Guide

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What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by Mystic on Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love it or loathe it, the wet season can really drench your mood at times. Yet you can't ignore the monsoons. It knocks its knuckles on your windowsill and falls right up to your doorstep. Because it comes only once in a year you welcome it with open arms. But once the novelty of first few showers wears off, the thrill of the monsoon season is replaced by a sense of monotony.

Yes, come monsoons and more and more of us, particularly Indians, will want to skip work, throw tantrums, suffer from insomnia, go on an eating binge, hate the world in general and feel restless. In short, we tend to suffer from an inexplicable depression. Want to know the medical term for this inexplicable melancholy. Well, it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

What is SAD

In layman's terms SAD means 'monsoon blues'. Though not a well-defined disorder, psychologists say that during the rainy days people may experience a mild, temporary depression that only occurs seasonally. You may wake up feeling at a low ebb, a little negative, and at times unwilling to think or move as you usually do.

Research indicates that SAD varies according to the geography. People with longer winter seasons are more afflicted by it. Though initially thought that it is a problem of higher latitudes but the incidence in India is good enough to carry mention of it in international journals. In India, doctors say that gloominess sets in during the monsoons when there is shortage of light and it reaches its peak between October to November.

The next question that must be perplexing you is that who tends to suffer from SAD? Well, almost three-fourths of SAD victims are women. This doesn't mean that men and children do not suffer from it. They also complain of seasonal depression. Most of it's victims tend be in their twenties and the diabetic or heart patients are more prone to it. This disorder tends to run in the family, which means you're likely to get it, if your mom or dad has it.

Depression Vs SAD

You must be wondering how SAD is different from the general depressions. Well, a doctor would declare you suffering from SAD only if you have had three cases of mood fluctuations and two out of these three have struck you one after the other. Moreover, you shouldn't have a history of depression or be unemployed either.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

People suffering from SAD complain of lethargy, body aches, drop in energy levels and an overall feeling of depression. Some even complain of suicidal thoughts, decrease in creativity, inability to complete work and a drop in sex drive. Low self-esteem, memory loss and problems in concentrating are also symptoms of SAD. In short, a person who has been healthy and cheerful during summers will become gloomy and sad with the change of the season.

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

The human biological clock is intricately connected to sunlight and the lack of it causes SAD. Animals also react to the changing season with the change in mood and behavior. Like animals, we are also sensitive to the length of the days. The SAD theory rests on the hypothesis that bright eye, as perceived through our eyes affect the production of chemicals in our body that influence our emotional and physical well-being. These chemicals are Serotonin and Melatonin. Increase in serotonin levels trigger happy thoughts and moods while a rise in melatonin triggers depression. It is found that during the rainy days light, that suppresses and depresses Melatonin is insufficient and hence a person becomes prone to depression.

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