Football season is here which means Autumn is also rapidly approaching. Does the changing of the seasons have you feeling gloomy? Are you already having a feeling of nervousness as we approach the holidays? Also, are these feelings something that reoccurs each year? If yes, then you may have what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Also referred to as the winter blues, SAD is a type of depression that affects roughly 25% of adults in the US each year during late Autumn and into early Winter. This means one out of every four adults will experience at least some form of depression over the next five to six months.
What are the Symptoms of SAD?
The symptoms of SAD can vary among adults. Here is a list of the most common:
- Weight gain
- Avoidance of social gatherings
- DIfficulting getting out of bed in the morning
- Reduced energy levels
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal or self-harm thoughts
So Is SAD the Same as Depression?
Yes, SAD is classified in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as “Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern”. As shown above, the symptoms of SAD and Depression are indeed very similar. However, for those with SAD, their symptoms are intensive during the winter months of January and February, especially in the northern hemisphere. It is the perennial nature of SAD that should trigger an alarm.
But couldn’t these feelings just be because of a bad day? No! Everyone has bad days however if these feelings persist year after year, then you should reach out for help. As I have opined about in earlier blog posts, battling in silence is never the answer.
What is the Cause of SAD?
The exact cause is unknown, but we do have some understanding of the brain’s chemistry which affects our mood. Two of those chemicals are serotonin and melatonin.
Serotonin is a brain chemical that affects our mood. And we know that a reduction in sunlight can reduce the amount of serotonin in our body. So with a reduction of sunlight leading to a decrease in serotonin in our body, we can surmise that during the winter months, it is possible for someone to experience an onset of SAD.
Short of moving closer to the equator, there is nothing much that a person can do to avoid the reduction in sunlight during the late Autumn and early Winter months.
Another of the brain’s chemicals is melatonin. The balance of this chemical in our bodies can also be affected by the changing of the seasons. Melatonin comes from the amino acid tryptophan which is present in the foods that we eat. For example, foods such as oats and dairy are high in tryptophan. Melatonin aids in regulating our sleep patterns so ensuring that our diet remains healthy is one way to combat this imbalance. For me, I take a dietary supplement of melatonin every night before going to bed.
What Can We Do?
First, we need to be mindful and watch out for the symptoms. If you or someone you know always seems to be in a funk around the holidays perhaps you can reach out to them — start a conversation. And as I have stated before, and as cliché as this may sound, you never know what someone else is going through. Things may look great on the outside however deep down inside, there is hidden pain behind that smile.
Second, get plenty of rest and try as best as you can to eat more healthily. I know I know. With the holidays approaching and momma’s pumpkin pies being scooted across the table, we can indulge.
Third, and probably most important is to seek out help from a professional counselor or your family doctor. They are best suited to provide the necessary guidance to get the help that you need.
Time for a Rant — Please Ignore If Not Interested
Granted this is not the quintessential solution however please hear me out. We should abolish Daylight Savings Time and stay on Standard Time as God intended. Period! Man’s attempt of gaining more sunlight in the summer has thrown everyone’s circadian rhythm (biological clock) off kilter. Setting our clocks back in the Fall each year by one hour causes the sun to set one hour earlier than the day before. So in just one day, we quickly lose one hour of sunlight in the evening.
Now some proponents have suggested sticking with Daylight Savings Time. And unsurprisingly so, our leaders in Washington have recently voted on the same. What they fail to understand is that our children will be waiting on their bus in the morning in complete darkness. Do we want our children standing beside a busy road in darkness? Well, they do that now until we fall back to the correct time.
Let’s Take a Look at Some Facts
On Friday, November 4th, 2022, and while we are still under Daylight Savings Time, the sun will rise in Corolla, NC at 7:30 AM. This means our children were standing beside a busy road at 6:30 AM in complete and total darkness. But then on November 6th, we will return to standard time by setting our clocks back one hour. So this means on Monday, November 7th, the sun will rise in Corolla, NC at 6:32 AM. Do you see my point? In the months of October and November, our children are on the side of a busy highway waiting on their school bus in near total darkness.
However, if we were to stay on Standard Time and not spring forward for Daylight Savings Time, our children would be safer waiting for the bus. For me, I would vote for children’s safety. This is just my two cents.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.