“I’m sorry, Danielle, I can’t come to work today because it is cloudy outside.”
This was how I was introduced to SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder…. a form of depression that occurs in some people during Fall and Winter months, but often improves in Spring and Summer. Now, I will never know if this particular woman had actually been diagnosed, but it was the first time I have heard of SAD. And I will confess to being skeptical. She can’t go outside when it is cloudy? So, I did some research. SAD wasn’t always taken seriously. (and, I imagine, off-hand remarks like the one this employee made, don’t help) It was first formally recognized in 1984, but still experiences its share of skepticism.
Since I’ve been hearing a lot of remarks about the lack of true ‘Spring weather’ in many parts of the country – meaning VERY.LITTLE.SUNSHINE – and how the ‘winter blahs’ and ‘cabin fever’ are hanging around, I thought this might be a good time to clarify…. Seasonal Affective Disorder and the ‘Winter Blahs’ are not the same thing.
Cloudy weather. Rain. Cold. Dreary-nap-inducing weather. It all makes me decidedly crabby. Like: PLEASE-CAN-I-MOVE-BACK-TO-CALIFORNIA-NOW crabby…. but I don’t have SAD. The cause of SAD isn’t officially known, but is thought to be related to ambient light, body temperature and even hormone regulation.
Symptoms can include excessive daytime sleepiness or difficulty waking up in the morning, an inability to concentrate – especially during the afternoon, lethargy, social withdrawal, a loss of interest in activities that the individual used to find engaging, an increased appetite and even weight gain (note that for many forms of depression, weight loss is actually more common), and overall unhappiness.
One of the most effective forms of treatment is light therapy, especially in the morning, which mimics the sunrise. Additionally, anti-depressant medication, behavioral therapy and supplementation of the hormone melatonin have been used successfully to treated SAD.
The national Center for Biotechnology was used for reaseraching this article.