Don’t be SAD.
Remember the other day when I mentioned how much better I felt after a walk in the cold? Even though I live in Wyoming which brings about images of high winds and deep snow, we also get amazing blue, sunny skies.
Do you tend to dread the wintertime because you always feel worse? It made me think of a wintertime disorder.
Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Its possible that you have something called Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD). If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. But don’t poo-poo these symptoms (I always wanted to put poo-poo into a sentence). Take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse.
So symptoms beginning in the fall/winter might be:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown but appears to be related to a decrease in sunlight. This decrease can cause:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include being female (yay for us?), young adults are more likely than older, having relatives with SAD or other forms of depression, and already having depression or bipolar disorder. Where you live is a factor, too. It is more common the nearer one lives to one of the poles, the greater the incidence. People in Canada or the northern U.S. are eight times more likely to fall victim to SAD than those living in sunny, more temperate areas like Florida or Mexico. And don’t forget those areas that have cloudy, rainy winters – think Seattle and Portland.
Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad. So if you do poo-poo your feelings, it could affect you by becoming socially withdrawn, have work or school problems, turn to a substance abuse or even have suicidal thoughts.
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy) — light therapy is effective in 60% to 90% of cases, and patients experience measurable improvement within a week; psychotherapy and medications. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.
Now after all that, today I went back out with Gus to the trails up the mountain from us. I would say we went about 2 miles or so but hiking in the snow definitely makes it feel tough. Gus on the other hand probably ran 6 miles! See that little brown dot ahead on the trail – yep that’s him.
The climb takes us up pretty high. This is looking back at the trail.
We passed an area of a former forest fire (August 2007).
And one more, just because it was pretty. 🙂
I am writing this with so much help from Jack
Are you like this when you thin you smell something cooking?
Are you outside a lot during the winter or are you stuck on a treadmill or indoor gym?
Have you or anyone you know ever suffered from SAD?
When was the last time you hiked in the snow?