Throughout late fall and early winter many individuals find themselves experiencing strong feelings of being sad creeping into their daily lives. At times, this sadness is very hard to define and people can experience this problem constantly. This is often diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is commonly referred to as “winter depression.” Four to six out of every 100 people
suffer from this disorder.
Living in Michigan, we are very familiar with the term “winter blues.” The further a person is from the equator, the more a person is at risk for developing SAD. This happens because of the reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter months which can affect a person’s overall mood. Serotonin
which is the brain’s mood booster is relatively low in the fall and winter months which makes it a link to depression. During these months,because of daylight savings, there are also increased levels of melatonin
which is a sleep-related hormone that releases in the brain, making a person sleep a lot more. This can make it very hard for some people to prevent this disorder but there are many ways that a person can do so.
The origin of winter depression is still unknown; but it is thought to be linked to a few specific ideas:
- Lack of Vitamin D, also known as sunlight deficiency
- Imbalance in melatonin, which is mainly disrupted by seasonal changes
- Drop in serotonin levels caused by sunlight reduction
- Interruptions to circadian rhythm due to lack of sunlight