Why does SAD occur and what predisposes us to getting it?
While this syndrome is still not well understood, we see it fairly often in clinical practice. The absence of sunlight during the winter months may be causing hormonal imbalances which could cause the symptoms of SAD. Those predisposed to it are people living in temperate zones, people with a depressive tendency and people living far enough north that experience extended periods of darkness for many months out of the year. It also tends to occur more often in women than in men.
What can I do to feel more like myself again?
Several things can help you get out of the “funk” that is SAD. The first step is talking about it. Acknowledging the fact that you don’t feel like your normal self and seeking out help is a great step in the right direction. Spending more time outside in the daylight and getting exercise will typically make symptoms better. Alternately, light therapy using a bright fluorescent light that mimics the sun has been shown to benefit those experiencing SAD. Lastly, correcting any nutritional deficiencies and supporting healthy brain function with mood boosting supplements can have a tremendous effect in improving symptoms.
While it might be difficult to differentiate between SAD and depression, SAD symptoms will usually remit in the spring when increased sunlight returns or when supportive therapy, such as light therapy, is initiated. With spring just around the corner, your mood should start feeling more balanced and you should begin to feel like your normal self again.