Seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that occurs in the fall or winter. Most of the time, a person suffers from depression when the days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and the weather is often worse. Some people are at higher risk of seasonal depression disorder, largely dependent on where they live and what their history with mental health is. For instance, someone with a preexisting mental health disorder like bipolar disorder is more at risk for experiencing seasonal depression. In addition, living farther from the equator, where winters are more intense, is another risk factor. If you struggle with seasonal depression, consider beginning a depression disorder treatment program.
What Causes Seasonal Depression?
Research is not conclusive about the causes of seasonal depression beyond the fact that it is related to changes in seasons and weather patterns. The most likely culprits include vitamin D deficiency, chemical imbalances in the brain, and biological clock changes.
Winter months often result in vitamin D deficiencies for people as sunlight is a primary source of this nutrient. Meanwhile, serotonin is a brain chemical that helps regulate emotion. Lack of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels that result in mood changes. In addition, the shift in seasons naturally forces people’s biological clocks to adjust. Since the biological clock is responsible for mood, sleep cycles, and hormone levels, shifts can change the mood.
Signs of Seasonal Depression Disorder
The best way to watch out for the onset of seasonal depression disorder is to monitor its symptoms in relation to the change in seasons. When summer turns to fall and when fall deepens into winter. Noticing symptoms like growing sadness, fatigue, and loss of interest in daily activities alongside a shift in seasons likely indicates the presence of seasonal depression. Three common signs of seasonal depression disorder are detailed below.
1. Pervasive Sadness and Hopelessness
Constant feelings of sadness and hopelessness are hallmarks of depression disorder. So if those emotions become prevalent as the weather worsens and the days get shorter, the likely culprit is seasonal depression. Other psychological impacts of seasonal depression to look for include:
- Problems concentrating
2. Fatigue and Excess Sleeping
Another indicator of seasonal depression is more fatigue and decreased energy levels. Ironically, these are often matched with an excess of sleep that fails to refresh the mind and body.
3. Loss of Interest in Normal Activities or Hobbies
Depression generally interferes with daily routines and activities. It can cause people to lose interest in what previously brought them joy. Seasonal depression works the same way, even if the weather offers no impediment to the activity or hobby. For instance, someone who enjoys drawing or journaling may stop engaging in the pastime as the weather turns even though less sun or growing cold don’t actually obstruct those activities.
Find Depression Treatment at South Tampa Psychiatry
South Tampa Psychiatry specializes in treating seasonal depression and other depression disorders in Florida. Depression disorder treatment involves a variety of methods. In the specific case of seasonal depression, the following treatments are typically combined to produce the best results:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Vitamin D supplements
Phototherapy addresses seasonal depression by engaging a patient in short sessions where they sit in front of a special UV lamp. It replaces the lack of natural sun they have access to in the darker winter days and provides the body with sufficient amounts of nutrients that people rely on the sun to get. Also called light therapy, phototherapy is often conducted first thing in the morning from the comfort of home.
Another effective treatment option for seasonal depression is antidepressants. These medications elevate mood by rebalancing serotonin levels in the brain. People who struggle with seasonal depression versus chronic depression may only need to take antidepressants on a seasonal basis.
We can provide answers about the best treatment for your needs. Contact South Tampa Psychiatry at 866.273.5017 to learn more about depression disorder treatment in Florida.