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Seasonal Depression Awareness

Seasonal Depression also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically occurs in the fall and winter months when the sunlight is reduced. During this time, many people experience sadness or mood changes affecting how they feel, think, and behave. As the winter and holiday seasons approach, it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones who may experience Seasonal Depression. 

Causes and Factors

Seasonal Depression typically occurs in the fall and winter due to a change in environmental factors. As there is a reduction in natural light, there is a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm which affects the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin. With a lack of serotonin and overproduction of melatonin, our mood and sleep are affected and worsened. Although Seasonal Depression is associated with environmental factors, it can also be associated with genetic and psychological factors. Many individuals with a family history of mental disorders are more susceptible to Seasonal Depression. 

Symptoms

Many symptoms of Seasonal Depression are similar to those with regular depression but typically last a few months of the year in the fall/winter. Symptoms of someone experiencing seasonal depression include: 

  • Oversleeping
  • Overeating, causing a weight gain
  • Lack of social interactions 
  • Persistent sadness or feeling “empty” 
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability and frustration 
  • Lost interest in hobbies 
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Physical pain 

It is important to watch for these symptoms in your loved ones and yourself. Seasonal Depression can lead to more physical and psychological pain if not recognized early on. If you or any loved one are experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Depression, talk to your physician or a psychiatrist to get your diagnosis. Symptoms in each person may vary but talking to a health care provider can give more insight on how to help you tackle your depression. 

Treatments

Some treatments for Seasonal Depression include: 

  • Exposure to sunlight or Light Therapy can help relieve symptoms of depression by increasing your serotonin levels. It can help regulate the circadian rhythm and improve mood. 
  • Antidepressants can help correct the chemical imbalance and alleviate many symptoms. A serotonin reuptake inhibitors can increase the availability of serotonin in the brain by blocking its reuptake, thereby enhancing its effects.

Some other ways to help relieve symptoms include: 

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Staying away from alcohol and drugs 
  • Hanging out with friends 
  • Participate in small activities that may bring you joy
  • Don’t push yourself to big tasks 

By doing these activities, seasonal depression does not just go away. It is important to know that it takes time to adjust back to your normal routine and self. Be patient with yourself or any loved one experiencing these symptoms. 

To read more about Seasonal Depression:

If you are struggling with your mental health, consider talking to someone you trust or your doctor. Therapy is available at CAPS and outpatient psychiatric treatment is available at SHS and UCR Health. Contact us at 1-844-827-8000 or submit an online appointment form to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment.

About UCR Health

UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists, and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.

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