What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD)?

About one in four people are susceptible to the winter doldrums, marked by fatigue and food cravings caused by biological changes. The more severe seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects 11 million Americans with more serious signs of depression (“Beating Winter’s Woes,”WebMD).

Both conditions are caused by winter’s shorter days, which disrupt our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock. How severely each individual is affected is based on a combination of factors—geography, genetics and individual brain chemistry. “With SAD, the lack of sunlight causes the brain to work overtime producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body clock and sleep patterns and which has been linked to depression,” WebMD reports. “The farther north from the equator you live, the greater the risk you’ll have some degree of winter depression.” For example, only about 1 percent of Florida residents suffer from wintertime blues compared to about half of those living in uppermost parts of the U.S. or in southern Canada.

Sunlight hitting the eye activates a body clock that is similar to the system that controls seasonal breeding and hibernation in animals, according to psychiatrist Daniel F. Kripke, who conducted the world’s first controlled study of bright-light therapy for depression in 1981, reports WebMD. This system is connected to our brain’s hardwiring for appetite, which might explain the reason for food cravings in winter.

Reprinted by Always Best Care Senior Services with permission from Senior Spirit, the newsletter of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors The Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) program provides the advanced knowledge and practical tools to serve seniors at the highest level possible while providing recipients a powerful credential that increases their competitive advantage over other professionals. The CSA works closely with Always Best Care Senior Services to help ABC business owners understand how to build effective relationships with seniors based on a broad-based knowledge of the health, social and financial issues that are important to seniors, and the dynamics of how these factors work together in seniors’ lives. To be a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) means one willingly accepts and vigilantly upholds the standards in the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility. These standards define the behavior that we owe to seniors, to ourselves, and to our fellow CSAs. The reputation built over the years by the hard work and high standards of CSAs flows to everyone who adds the designation to their name. For more information, visit www.society-csa.com

To print this article CLICK HERE

Posted In: Featured articles