As summer comes to a close and fall turns to winter, the shortened days and bleaker weather mean less sunlight, irregular sleeping patterns, and more time spent in darkness. Seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) is a condition where patients experience considerable differences in mood and mental health. Some people are better equipped to handle this adjustment, while others may have a genetic predisposition, making it more difficult to cope. According to this 2005 study, approximately 10% – 20% of depression cases occur due to seasonal changes. Notably, the prevalence of S.A.D increases the further north you go, obviously as winter seasons become longer and more intense.
The experts at the Integrative Hormone Center have devoted themselves to helping men of all ages maintain a healthy, positive quality of life. Depression is a widely underreported condition, especially so in men. Our goal is to provide effective therapy options that can help you cope with the changing seasons and ease the transition with supplementation that your body desperately needs during the winter months.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Although the exact cause varies from person to person, there are common causes that are easily identified and are as follows:
Vitamin D Deficiency
As the days become shorter, most of us spend the majority of the daylight hours indoors at work. This drastic decrease in the amount of sunlight we get each day actually has a chemical response inside the body. If you arent supplementing Vitamin D, you can very easily become vitamin D deficient and feel the symptoms associated with it.
Reduced Serotonin Production
It was mentioned that some people may be genetically predisposed or have a tendency for depressive episodes. In this case, the brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, which is a powerful mood regulator. This deficiency can cause you to slip into a depression even in warmer summer months but contributes even more so to cold weather seasonal depression.
Melatonin is another very powerful hormone that is more commonly known. You may hear of people taking melatonin tabs as a sleep aid or to calm themselves during stressful times. Melatonin is produced naturally within the body and controls your sleep patterns. Overproducing this hormone can lead to irregular sleep patterns, either too much or too much at the wrong time causing disrupted sleep and fatigue.
Tendency for Depression or Negative Thoughts
Studies have been conducted on Scandinavian towns, so laterally north that there are periods of time where there is virtually no sunlight, and despite what you would expect, S.A.D is actually less prevalent in those communities compared to places in the United States.
Experts believe that their thoughts, views, and expectations are what make them more immune to seasonal change. They don’t see winter as a burden, they don’t imagine winter as a time where there are fewer possibilities or that outdoor experiences are limited. Their culture fully embraces the dark winters, making the most of them, and they are much better for it. They look forward to winter and all of the opportunities it brings with it.
This highlights another cause for S.A.D, which is a tendency for depressive episodes. If you think of winter and dread the cold, get anxious about the dark and hate going outside, your body will respond negatively as well.
Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
This condition isn’t in need of a cure per se. Instead, patients with S.A.D require assistance and support with coping mechanisms and supplementation. Jeff Hogrefe is the in-house functional medicine specialist at the Integrative Hormone Center and can provide a comprehensive assessment of your health. Recovering from a vitamin D deficiency can be resolved with regularly scheduled supplementation which can be purchased from our online store.
With regard to hormone regulation, the Integrative Hormone Center specializes in hormone protocols that are unique to patients’ requirements. Often, when someone is experiencing a hormonal imbalance, there is an undiagnosed underlying cause. If you have any questions regarding seasonal affective disorder and how it can be treated, reach out to the professionals at Integrative Hormone Center today! Call or book an appointment online and take the first step towards a better quality of life!