Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a seasonal disruption of mood. It occurs during the winter months and usually stops with spring. Symptoms begin in September, when days begin to shorten, and last through March, when the days begin to lengthen again. The availability of light plays a big part in its origin and in its treatment. It is more common in women, but can affect any age or sex. In unusual situations, the seasonal disorder may occur in the summer months and may be caused by an intolerance to heat.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder (sad)
The pineal gland in the brain is responsible for releasing a hormone called melatonin. This hormone can adversely affect our moods. Very little melatonin is released in daytime and its peak production is at night, between 2 and 3 a.m. During the winter months, the is more production of melatonin, so the level in the body is increased. The average artificial illumination in the home or office is not enough to counteract the effect of diminished daylight.
Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (sad)
The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder usually begin at the start of winter and include depression, tiredness and sluggishness. There is frequently increased appetite, especially for carbohydrates, that leads to weight gain. Irritability and having trouble dealing with stress occur. There is a need for more sleep, feeling less cheerful and socializing less.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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