As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, many people find themselves experiencing changes in mood and energy levels. For some, these seasonal shifts can lead to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the nuances of Seasonal Affective Disorder and explore different wellness tips to help you navigate the winter blues.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern, with symptoms recurring at specific times of the year. While it can occur in the spring or early summer, it is more common during the fall and winter. The limited exposure to sunlight during this time is believed to play a crucial role in triggering the disorder.
Symptoms of (SAD) may include:
Low Levels Of Vitamin D Can Increase Your Risks of Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Vitamin D is often known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because our body produces it when our skin is exposed to UV light. Unfortunately, many Midwesterners head indoors once the temperature drops, which greatly decreases their daily dose of vitamin D.
A new study by the University of Georgia linked low vitamin D levels with a greater risk of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder (a type of depression affecting up to 10% of the US population through the fall and winter months).
The onset of SAD commonly occurs in early adulthood, and 3 out of 4 individuals with it are women. Light therapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both have been used to treat SAD.
If you suspect you are not getting enough vitamin D, it is worth discussing with your provider. Or make a point of bundling up and getting outside each day, even if it’s just for a short while.
SAD Disorder in People of Color:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect people of all races and ethnicities, including people of color. While it’s often associated with the colder months and reduced sunlight, it’s important to recognize that SAD can manifest in various ways.
Factors such as cultural background, geographical location, and individual experiences can contribute to how SAD is expressed. For instance, someone from a region with less sunlight during winter might have a different experience than someone from a sunnier climate.
Acknowledging and understanding the diversity of experiences with SAD is crucial for providing effective support and treatment. If you or someone you know is dealing with SAD, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance and solutions.
While SAD affects more than 10 million Americans annually, the disorder affects women four times more than men. More than 500,000 Americans are hospitalized every year because of the condition.
“Researchers believe SAD may have disparate effects on Black Americans because of how depression generally presents itself in Black communities, and because vitamin D deficiency is most prevalent among Black people in America. In the United States, Black and Latino people are more likely to be at risk for depression than white people, according to a 2018 study that included more than 12,000 participants from 2005 to 2012. The study attempted to account for historical drivers of depression in Black communities, including chronic stress due to racism and economic inequality. Even when considered, Black participants were still more likely to be at risk for depression, the study concluded.” Capital B News
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real and challenging condition, but with proactive steps and a focus on overall wellness, individuals can manage its symptoms effectively. By incorporating light therapy, outdoor activities, regular exercise, mindfulness practices, a healthy diet, social connections, and a cozy environment into your routine, you can navigate the winter blues and embrace the season with a positive mindset. Remember, seeking professional help is always an option, and there is support available for those who need it.
Sources: Mayo Clinic (What is SAD), MIND.org “What Self Care Can I Do For Seasonal Affective Disorder”, Meridian Psychiatric Partners ” 6 ways to help manage seasonal affective disorder”
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