If you recently moved to the Pacific Northwest, then you most likely have experienced the effects of less sun and more importantly Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. If you live in Portland, then it’s guaranteed you know someone suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you or a loved one needs to see a SAD therapist in Portland, please contact our therapy practice today.
Explaining Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined as a type of depression that happens during the same season, each year. Up to 20 percent of the population in the United States suffers from some severity of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it ranges from very mild to severe. You could be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder if you notice that you feel sad or depressed during the Winter months, but you feel better once Spring and Summer arrive. There are several other symptoms that you may notice with this disorder.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder has several symptoms, and each person can experience a different range of them, including severity scales. The more common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
- Weight Loss or Gain
- Trouble Concentrating
- Tiredness Throughout the Day
- Hypersensitivity to Rejection
Issues Getting Along with Other People and more
If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms and they don’t seem to be going away or improving, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor. They will be able to formally diagnose if you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or if it is something else.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
The exact causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder are not entirely known. It is believed to be caused by a group of things all acting at the same time to affect your mood. Doctors have done research into this disorder and they believe it is caused by three major factors.
Circadian Rhythm. In the Fall and Winter months, you are exposed to less sunlight, and this may cause your winter-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder. The decrease in the level of sunlight can disrupt your circadian rhythm or your biological clock, and this can lead to you feeling sad or depressed.
Melatonin Levels. Your body naturally produces Melatonin, and in the Fall and Winter months, this production process can get disrupted. If this happens, you may experience changes in your mood and sleep patterns.
Serotonin Levels. Again, you experience less exposure to sunlight, and this can cause your Serotonin levels to drop in your body. If this happens, you’ll feel depressed, sad, and sluggish.
Common Risk Factors for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Several things can put you at a higher risk of developing this condition. If you’re a female, this condition is diagnosed more, and younger females are at a higher risk. Genetics may also play a role, and if someone in your family has been diagnosed, this increases your risk factor.
Once your doctor has diagnosed you with Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are three main treatment options. Your first option is light therapy, and this is done to make up for your decrease in sunlight. The second option is behavioral therapy. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist, and you can have talking sessions with them. The final option is to take medications, and your doctor might prescribe you some if your symptoms are more severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is becoming a more well-known problem. It is manageable if you talk to your doctor and get on a treatment plan. You will be happier and healthier once you know what is causing your mood swings and symptoms. Help is available, but you have to take the first step and ask for it. Start by talking to one of our therapists in Portland, Oregon here. We can help you if you live in Portland, or anywhere else with an internet connection.