About half a million Americans suffer from the seasonal blues. Each year, like clockwork, depression sets in as the days get shorter and the weather turns colder. Instead of jumping out of bed ready to greet the day, many people want to crawl under the covers and wait for spring.
More than just “the winter blues” or “cabin fever,” seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a serious form of depression that can impact a person’s health, productivity and relationships.
While scientists aren’t clear what exactly causes SAD, seasonal and geographic patterns suggest the disorder is linked to diminishing daylight. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock, reduce levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin), and disrupt hormones that govern sleep patterns and mood.
The good news: You don’t have to suffer in silence. Treatments for SAD are remarkably effective, and if you take preventive measures before the season hits, you may be able to stave off the blues altogether.