Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you ever feel like you have the winter blues, lack of energy, or even depressed with changes in the weather? You may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD”. It is a type of depression which is related to the changes in seasons. It is generally a recurring cycle which begins and ends around the same time each year.Winter BluesSAD most commonly affects people in the late fall or winter months, it is less common during the spring or summertime. Symptoms of SAD may be similar to those of depression, including:• Decreased energy or losing interest in activities• Trouble sleeping• Weight or appetite changes• Difficulty concentrating• Feeling fatigued or agitatedSince the days are cold and shorter during the winter months, much of our daylight hours are spent at work or in school. This can cause a change in our biological clock (circadian rhythm). Many people have difficulty oversleeping in the mornings, and have low energy to continue activities in the evenings after dark. It is not uncommon to develop cravings for comfort foods as well, especially those high in carbohydrates.Summertime SAD can have symptoms quite different, and often opposite of those associated with winter SAD. Depression is still one of the main symptoms, however, many people experience trouble sleeping or insomnia, weight loss, poor appetite, and agitation or anxiety. Many are able to recover their energy and increase activity when the days become longer.Causes of SAD are unknown, for the most part. Neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, have an effect on mood and may play a role in SAD. This is also a very common contributor to depression as well. A drop in melatonin can cause changes in sleep patterns and mood, and as such may be a possible cause of SAD.There are some things to do at home which may help symptoms. Making the work or school environment brighter, or by sitting closer to the windows can provide a better space. Doing outdoor activities in the morning within 2 hours of starting your day is an ideal time to be outside. Regular exercise will help to relieve stress and anxiety, both of which may exacerbate SAD symptoms. Supplementing the diet with Omega-3 fatty acid, melatonin, and St. John’s wort may also be beneficial.At Optimal Chiropractic, Dr. Chris and Dr. Emily encourage their patients to stay active, especially during the winter months. Find an outdoor sport or activity you enjoy during the winter time to stay active and keep your spirits up. Give our office a call at (208) 777-4305 if you are in North Idaho, or the Post Falls area and are interested in seeing how chiropractic care can benefit your life.