Thursday, January 26, 2012

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Today I'll be continuing my discussing on Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you missed my introductory post on the definition of SAD and who it affects, you can check that post out here.

Today I'll be looking at the causes of SAD. This is a bit tricky, as the actual cause of the disorder is fairly unknown. The Mayo Clinic suggests that "it's likely, as with many mental health conditions, that genetics, age and, perhaps most importantly, your body's natural chemical makeup all play a role in developing the condition" (source). Because this disorder primarily happens in the winter, when there is a lack of sunlight, it leads people to believe that sunlight plays a big role in this disorder.

The Cleveland Clinic suggests the following: "One theory is that with decreased exposure to sunlight, the biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones is delayed, running more slowly in the winter. Another theory is that brain chemicals that transmit information between nerves, called neurotransmitters (for example, serotonin), may be altered in individuals with SAD" (source).

So, it appears that a number of contributors such as the body's natural rhythm, hormone & other chemical levels, and exposure to light all play a role in seasonal affective disorder.

Now it's your turn to share:
Any thoughts on the "winter blues"? What's one thing you do to stay happy and healthy in the winter? 


  1. I think the keyword here is 'doing' since the result of those blah winter feelings is inactivity. I try to counteract that inactivity with activity when I am able. Getting outside is so helpful and I try to walk every day but even that is difficult in bad weather with icy sidewalks. Playing some board games with friends (winter gets to them too!), working on a hobby, finding a new interest on the computer, anything that involves 'doing' something instead of just 'being' depressed helps me. Depression makes it even harder to do anything, but I force myself (most of the time) and it helps.

  2. Do you know if they've done any studies on people who live way up north versus those who live at the equator? Wonder if taking Vitamin D supplements would help? I know people who have been helped by using full spectrum lightbulbs.


    p.s. I'm here from #FBF Chasing_Joy

  3. @Mental Mosaic- I think it's almost 10% in northern states such as Alaska, and about 1% in the southern states, so that's a huge difference. Some people have seasonal affective disorder in the summer, but I'm not sure about statistics for that. It is a much smaller group though.

  4. Any studies done on those of us who work graveyard shift 1900 til 0600 ?