As much as we try to keep summer alive, we must also prepare for shorter days and colder temperatures chasing us indoors. Here in the northern hemisphere, the nip is in the air early and the leaves are changing, heralding the inevitable retreat of the sun and the march of winter. To some, this is just a flip in the calendar. To others, this change in seasons triggers a more serious mood disturbance which must be addressed.

Definitions

Seasonal Affective Disorder or, as it is fittingly referred to, SAD, is a serious diagnosis that has garnered increasing attention over the last decade. According to Psychology Today, “Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of recurrent major depressive disorder in which episodes of depression occur during the same season each year. This condition is sometimes called the “winter blues,” because the most common seasonal pattern is for depressive episodes to appear in the fall or winter and remit in the spring.” More than just a passing sadness, SAD is a form of depression that can cause harm if left untreated.

Criteria

SAD primarily enters the conversation in the fall and winter months. As the sun shows itself less and less with each week, many of those prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder are plagued with symptoms consistent with depression. The criteria to be diagnosed with SAD requires that one experiences depression coinciding with a specific season (including summer) for 2 or more years.

Causes

The primary cause of SAD is unknown, however, there are a few variables that increase the risk of developing symptoms. These include: living far away from the equator, there is a much higher rate of SAD in females, a family history of SAD or, previous bipolar or depressive disorders. With complex mental ailments, there can be a variety of factors at play. If you have noticed symptoms consistent with descriptions of Seasonal Affective Disorder, understand that it is a valid and serious disorder that requires just as much attention as a physical injury.

Interventions

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder include but are not limited to: light therapy, medication, vitamin D and psychotherapy. Many people have noticed improvement with regular use of strategic light. Light therapy is a unique process that attempts to make up for the daily loss of sunlight. Typically, an electrical device that emits the required amount of 10,000 lux is used for half an hour in the morning to introduce the right kind of light to the retina. Most commonly, these devices which are available for purchase in most pharmacies, involve a bank of lights that you sit in front of for a set, regular block of time.

Focus on Light Therapy

Light therapy can work as effectively as antidepressants. Like most mental health interventions, these devices aren’t appropriate for all sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder and one should consult a medical professional regarding its use. New research is being conducted on this topic all the time. A very interesting study was recently published by a Japanese research group, which demonstrated that a tryptophan-rich breakfast combined with light therapy in the morning helped increase natural melatonin production at night. So not only does light therapy help with daytime mood, but under the right circumstances it can help both day and night.

When searching for techniques to help sleep and anxiety, Zenbev Drink Mix should never be far from mind. Zenbev provides a natural boost in tryptophan, which can also assist with the alleviation of SAD symptoms. Natural sleep remedies like Zenbev can work alone or in conjunction with light therapy to boost your body’s own serotonin and melatonin production in a natural way.

Mental health awareness has turned a spotlight on conditions that have affected many generations before ours, finally validating those who have struggled and didn’t know why. We now have a greater understanding and techniques to help sufferers cope during this challenging time. Sensitivity is the very first step.