Seasonal affective disorder, or as they call it colloquially, seasonal depression, summer / winter depression is a type of depression that depends on seasonal changes. Seasonal depression begins and ends at approximately the same date each year. If you think you have seasonal depression, your symptoms usually appear in the fall and continue throughout the winter months. Although rare, seasonal mood disorders may occur in the spring or summer months.
Seasonal affective disorder is more common in women than in men. While researchers cannot fully explain why, it turns out that around 75 percent of people who experience seasonal depression are women. About the causes of seasonal affective disorder, some scientists think hormones are effective. According to some theories, the brain produces less Serotonin due to less sunlight exposure in autumn and winter.
While most people experience seasonal depression at the beginning of autumn and winter, in some cases, a similar situation can be encountered in the first days of spring and summer. In both cases, symptoms begin mildly and continue to worsen throughout the season.
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People with seasonal depression need more sleep than usual and tend to consume foods containing carbohydrates. They may also show similar symptoms that point to depression;
Symptoms that occur with the summer season, sometimes referred to as summer depression, are usually associated with the following symptoms;
Researchers cannot fully explain what causes seasonal depression. However, different theories have been put forward to explain this issue.
Change of biological clock: If you are less exposed to sunlight, your biological clock changes. Your biological clock regulates your mood, sleep and hormones. When this pattern changes, people may find it difficult to keep their moods in balance.
Chemical imbalance in the brain: Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters provide communication between nerves. These chemicals may also contain Serotonin, which contributes to the feeling of happiness. Serotonin may be less effective in people at risk of experiencing seasonal mood disorders. The situation can worsen in winters as sunlight helps to release Serotonin. Serotonin levels can drop, causing mood swings.
Vitamin D deficiency: Serotonin levels are also increased thanks to Vitamin D. Sunlight helps produce Vitamin D, so exposure to less sunlight in winter can also cause Vitamin D deficiency. This affects Serotonin and therefore mood.
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Melatonin elevation: Melatonin is a chemical that affects sleep patterns. Lack of sunlight can cause some people to overproduce Melatonin. These people may feel sluggish and sleepy during the winter.
Negative thoughts: People who experience seasonal depression are often stressed and have negative thoughts, especially about the winter season. Researchers have not been able to fully determine whether these negative thoughts are the cause or the result of seasonal depression.
It is normal for you to feel more down on some days. However, if you notice that you are feeling down for days and you find it difficult to be motivated for activities that you normally enjoy, it will be useful to consult a doctor. Especially if you feel a difference in your sleep patterns and appetite and have hopeless thoughts, you should definitely consult your doctor.
Compiled and translated by: Dilara Preserve
References: Cleveland Clinic. Seasonal Depression. Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression
Mayo Clinic. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Downloaded from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
WebMD. Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-disorder