Researchers reveal ways to beat seasonal depression

Elaina Joyner, Reporter

The winter season calls for less sun and snow storms which can lead to Seasonal Depression. During the winter months, people tend to stay indoors and not get sunlight which can add to the possibility of SAD. ( J Voitus/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It only comes in the dark and gloomy days of winter.

Seasonal Depression can also be known by “winter blues,” “winter depression,” and “summer depression.” Seasonal depression is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Depression impacts 1% to 2% of people, mostly women and young people, stated by Help Guide. Doctors have found two easy ways to beat SAD such as light therapy and exercise.

Seasonal depression is caused by many things that contribute to its development. There are three main reasons why seasonal depression may occur, according to Help Guide. The lack of sun during the winter months can help jumpstart the spiral into seasonal depression. The reduced sunlight disrupts the body’s internal alarm clock and leads to feelings of depression. A dip in serotonin levels, a brain chemical that affects mood, also plays a role in SAD.

The first reason why seasonal depression may occur is the Circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal alarm clock. This internal clock changes between light and dark to regulate sleep, mood, and appetite. Since there are longer nights and shorter days in the winter season, it disrupts the Circadian rhythm. This causes a person to feel groggy, disoriented, and tired.

In addition to circadian rhythm, the production of melatonin also causes SAD. When it’s dark outside, the brain produces the hormone called melatonin to help make you sleep.  The sunlight during the day causes the brain to stop producing the hormone so then you feel awake. During the winter, the body produces more melatonin because of the lack of sunlight, leaving the feeling of drowsiness and low on energy.

Finally, the last cause of Seasonal Depression is the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. Since the winter has reduced sunlight, it can lower the production of serotonin. This deficiency can lead to depression and affect your sleep, appetite, and memory.

There is mainly two different types of seasonal depression called either summer-spring or fall-winter. The Mayo Clinic stated that most people exhibit symptoms of fall-winter seasonal depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms may include, “specific to winter-onset SAD, oversleeping, appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates, weight gain, tiredness or low energy.”

Summer-spring seasonal depression can have symptoms ranging from agitation to insomnia.  

Seasonal Depression has many difficult symptoms that people deal with, but luckily there is ways to fix it. Everyday Health suggests using light therapy.

“…give off light that mimics sunshine and can help in the recovery from seasonal affective disorder. The light from the therapy boxes is significantly brighter than that of regular light bulbs, and it’s provided in different wavelengths,” according to Everyday Health.

The Greatist suggests using exercise as a way to prevent and recover from Seasonal Depression, “Regular exercise can reduce symptoms of moderate, nonseasonal depression.”

Studies also say that a combination of exercise and light therapy can help treat SAD, says Greatist.

If you are feeling down and drowsy, consider the idea of Seasonal Depression. Look for the signs pointing to the disease and find out how to fix the problem. Identify which season is usually occurs for you and find ways to fight it off.