Combating S.A.D.ness

Causes & Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Fall is the season marked by fewer daylight hours, cooler temperatures, and a host of holidays and family gatherings that are cause for both celebration and perhaps a touch of melancholy.

Feeling blue in the midst of all the orange and yellow of autumn and the traditional hues – and visiting friends and relatives – associated with the December holidays is not uncommon. In fact, it has its own moniker: SAD – or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, some people suffer from symptoms of depression that either appear gradually or come on all at once during the fall and winter months, and often include changes in mood, fatigue, social withdrawal, craving foods high in carbohydrates, weight gain and lack of interest in normal activities.

Individuals may experience one or all of these symptoms, and still have a diagnosis of SAD.

While it is unclear exactly what causes SAD in every individual diagnosed, researchers have linked the symptoms to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that occurs when a person is exposed to less sunlight during the winter. The seasonal change may shift a person’s “internal clock,” causing a disruption in their daily routine or schedule that can trigger depression symptoms.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have compiled risk factors for SAD, which include:
• Being female – while women are diagnosed with the disorder more often than men, men who suffer from SAD tend to have symptoms that are more severe
• Living far from the equator – perhaps due to decreased daylight hours, SAD tends to be more common in populations living far north or south of the equator
• Family history – individuals who have a blood relative suffering from depression or from SAD may be more likely to develop symptoms themselves
• Clinical depression or bipolar disorder – people with other forms of depression may notice a worsening of their symptoms if they also experience SAD

While there is not cure for SAD, studies suggest that increased exposure to sunlight can improve symptoms. Taking a long walk outside or arranging living areas inside your home to maximize exposure to natural light have been shown beneficial in reducing the severity of symptoms.

Living in a Windsong Properties active adult community offers the opportunity to practice both of these, as walkable streets and neighbors who also are interested in a healthy, active lifestyle encourage visiting outdoors; and well-placed windows and sky lights in each open floor plan provide ample natural light throughout your home.

Regardless of the season, at Windsong, Life’s A Breeze!

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