Howwas the life of a person having seasonal affective disorder? A person named Dianewho has seasonal affective disorder experiences a full of energy and hyperalmost during spring and summer but by the season changes in winter and autumn,she feels lethargic, couldn’t concentrate, forgetful, and feel exhausted. Accordingto an international study conducted by World Health Organization (2002), in theUnited States, about 4-6% of people are suffering from seasonal affectivedisorder (SAD). According to the National Institute for Mental Health (2016),seasonal depression is fourtimes more likely tooccur in women, and younger adults are at higher risk as well. In the Philippines, we experience too muchexposure to sun that gives us vitamin D from the rays of it, vitamin D cariesand increases our levels of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is aneurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory and mood; thus, peoplewith low serotonin levels are most likely to exhibit depression-likesymptoms. It is reported that SAD or WinterDepression increases suicide rates in icy Western countries. Apsychiatrist and medical director of the geropsychiatric program at McLarenGreater Lansing name Dr. Blake Casher define the seasonal affective disorder asa psychological and physical condition and a serious form of depression thatoccurs in a seasonal pattern, usually recurring from fall through winter, andusually remitting in the spring. Whatreally causes seasonal affective disorder? SAD is caused by both biological andpsychological factors.
Biological factors due to changes in the climate, as thedays shorten; sunlight recedes, decreasing the amount of light that normallyenters the retina. This change in light pattern disrupts the circadian rhythm,affecting the pineal gland which regulates certain chemicals like serotonin,melatonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Accordingto WebMD (2015), anyonecan get this kind of depression because it is mostly influenced by the”amount of sunlight entering the body.” This explains why people whoalways stay indoors with blinds or curtains covering their window often feellethargic. In an article published in 2015 by WorldNow,KTRE, atelevision station, and Debra K. Burton, PhD anda licensed professional counselor and family therapist, said that even “excessivecloudy days” like those brought about by the torrential rains may alsocause depression; for people who are experiencing SAD, cold weather, lack ofsunshine, dark skies, short days and long nights can lead to depression.
Anotherbiological factor is family history. Peoplewith SAD may have blood relatives who have seasonal affective disorder oranother form of depression. On the other hand,psychological factor cause due to havingmajor depression or bipolar disorder because the symptomsof depression may worsen seasonally if a person have one of these conditions.Not all people who have seasonalaffective disorder have the same behavioral manifestations, butsymptoms commonly associated with the “winter blues” includesfeelings of hopelessness and sadness, thoughts of suicide, hypersomnia or atendency to oversleep, a change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet orstarchy foods, weight gain, a heavy feeling in the arms or legs, a drop inenergy level, decreased physical activity, fatigue, difficulty concentrating,irritability, increased sensitivity to social rejection, and avoidance ofsocial situations. However, those people who have summer SAD have differentsigns and symptoms which are poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, and agitationand anxiety.
Either type of SAD may also contain someof the behavioral manifestations that are present in major depression, such asfeelings of guilt, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities previouslyenjoyed, ongoing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or physical problemssuch as headaches and stomach aches. In addition, symptoms of SAD tend toreoccur at about the same time every year. To be diagnosed with SAD, thechanges in mood should not be a direct result of obvious seasonalstressors (like being regularly unemployed during the winter). Usually, thisform of depression is mild or moderate. However, some people experiencesevere symptoms that leave them unable to function in their daily lives.
Moreover, seasonal affective disorder can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism,hypoglycemia, or a viral infection such as mononucleosis.In the Philippines, seasonalaffective disorder is not a serious mental health issue because we experiencelong months of summer that makes us expose on too much sunlight that brings ourserotonin levels high, however, depression is very rampant in the country withover 4.5 million cases reported in 2004 according to the Department of Health(DOH). But, thatnumber is likely to be much higher, since many of those suffering fromdepression hesitate to seek help because of the stigma still surrounding mentaldisorders.In conclusion, seasonal affective disorder is adepressive disorder that may lead people to feel unhappy and restless during aspecific season and it can also take people’s lives. Therefore, SAD is also as seriousas the other mental health disorders that need attention and treatment.