Some people experience a regular low period when the seasons change. Doctors have a name for it - Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It is more common in adults, and more so in women, but children and teens can sometimes be affected, as well.
SAD is a type of depression that can appear when there is less sunlight. Unlike other types of depression, SAD symptoms seem to arrive as winter arrives and then fade away as spring approaches. Like other depressions, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be mild, or it can be more severe.
Why does this happen? In most cases, SAD seems to be related to the loss of sunlight. Researchers have found that reduced sunlight can affect the body in ways that could contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder. These include: Circadian rhythm (biological clock) – the decrease in sunlight could disrupt your body’s natural rhythms. There may also be a drop in vitamin D levels and in the brain chemical, Serotonin, that affects our mood. These changes can lead to depression.
Symptoms of SAD may include:
- change in appetite, especially craving sweet or starchy foods
- sleeping more than normal
- difficulty concentrating
- irritability and anxiety
- increased sensitivity to rejection
- avoidance of social situations
- loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy
If you or your child are experiencing some of these symptoms your doctor can help determine the best way to cope and feel better.