Updated: Nov 4
As the days get colder and nighttime starts earlier, millions of people feel almost as if their energy gets sapped during this time of year. In many cases, it’s not just a case of the “winter blues.” It’s a very real conditional called, Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, is a type of depression where people go through a short period of time where they feel sad or not feeling like their usual selves,” said Releve Counseling therapist, Meryll Cornejo. “It’s changes in their moods.”
But, what’s actually changing in your body to cause SAD?
The specific catalyst is unknown. But, several factors can come into play:
Biological Clock: reduced sunlight can disrupt your body’s internal clock and could lead to feelings of depression
Serotonin Drop: a decrease in this brain chemical can also be triggered by lack of sunlight
Melatonin Levels: a disruption of this chemical can affect your mood and sleep patterns
Many people can weather Seasonal Affective Disorder without problems, or may feel slightly disrupted because of Daylight Saving Time.
“If it’s affecting you in a way that you can’t complete your daily living activities. Or, you start to withdraw yourself from your usual routine and it’s starting to affect your schoolwork or career, and causing you to be more anxious and depressed, then it’s time to seek treatment for that.”
People already dealing with other mental health disorders, are especially at risk.
“Having depression or bipolar disorder, you already have symptoms you deal with on a daily basis, and a change like Daylight Saving Time and lack of light, it highlights the symptoms.”
To fight back against SAD, talk therapy is an option, as well as light therapy, or a doctor could prescribe an antidepressant. Meryll also suggests making a plan to minimize the impact caused by Daylight Saving Time.
“Your biological clock is so used to doing something else for months and months so you can kind of change your routine and maybe be proactive and have a set agenda to make it feel like that you’re not unproductive.”
Daylight Saving Time starts November 6th.