As I sit here writing this article with the rain pouring  and no sun in sight, I reflect on the way that I used to feel during dreary days like this.

Growing up in a northern climate with many days of snow and rain was never quite fun during my teen and young adult years. I suffered from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons…begins and ends at about the same times every year.”

I can speak from experience and admit that I used to feel sad at the end of the summer and beginning of the fall season when there were cloudy days and heavy episodes of rain which eventually became snow in the winter. I felt like staying inside and curling up into a ball during these dark days outside.

I became anti-social and withdrawn and couldn’t understand why until a friend told me that I had seasonal affective disorder.

What causes seasonal affective disorder and does having SAD make you sad?

Seasonal affective disorder has been attributed to a variety of causes and studies have been done to determine where this condition originates. According to Medical Health News Today seasonal affective disorder is caused by:

– Disruption in the circadian rhythm in relation to less sunlight in the winter.

– Reduced exposure to sunlight causing a disruption in melatonin.

– The hypothalamus in the brain not being stimulated enough due to less sunlight.

I can attest to feeling bored, tired, hungry and anti-social during these sunless days.

The question remains – does SAD make you sad?

Seasonal affective disorder can lead to other types of depression if one has a genetic predisposition to it. Having SAD does not necessarily make you sad.

what is seasonal affective disorder_2Seasonal affective disorder can lead to symptoms of feeling fatigue, irritability, stressed and feeling alone. My experience in overcoming seasonal affective disorder was that I moved to sunny California, started exercising and became more socially active.

Then a blood test revealed that I had low levels of vitamin D.

An increase in vitamin D helped my immune system to stay strong whereas in the past I usually ending up with the flu due to lack of self-care and comfort food indulgences during the winter season.

Here are some tips to deal with the depressing symptoms of SAD:

– Start an exercise and healthy eating program.

– Ensure that vitamin and hormonal levels are in balance. This can be checked at the doctor’s office with a referral to a lab.

– Some people use light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder.

– Supplements of melatonin or vitamin D may be necessary depending on doctor’s orders.

– Have a support system of friends and family who can provide encouragement and love.

– Take a vacation to a warm, sunny climate.

Now, when the seasons change I embrace them with gratitude knowing that the rain in the fall and winter will allow for luscious produce and vegetation in the spring and summer seasons.

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