Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Life without sunlight can have a damaging effect on the human body, causing a range of problems. In cold and harsh places like Lapland, the winter sunlight is short with the sun rising around 10am and setting at 2pm.
This is causing locals to suffer from depression and sleeplessness. The condition is being described by some doctors as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Dr. Antille is a psychiatrist working in Lapland and says people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are deficient in serotonin in the brain and need some drugs to overcome the problem. The serotonin system doesn’t work where there is too much darkness and too much cold. When this serotonin system doesn’t work, people become angry and aggressive.
They don’t sleep and are in a very bad mood in the mornings.
It’s fair to say that people tend to be far more cheery and happy during the summer time when the weather is good rather than the gray and dreary months of winter. Seasons really affect our mood and behavior.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
There is a small subset of the population who do suffer during the winter months from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
This is suitably shortened as the term SAD. This is basically recognized as the beginning or the worsening of the symptoms of depression, which occurs with the changing of the seasons, typically the winter or autumn months.
Exposure to daylight is thought to be one of the main culprits behind this disorder with people typically seeing reduced daylight hours during the winter months .
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : How Does That Work ?
The human body has eyes, which it uses to detect light changes. Variations and light levels are then communicated to the brain, which in part uses this information to regulate our internal body clock. Our internal body clock is basically a complex dance of chemicals that’s happening in your brain and these chemicals influence things like mood, appetite, and sleep.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Serotonin & Melatonin
So, you can kind of see where I’m going with this. If light can influence this system, then seasonal variations in light levels will cause changes in how the system operates. More specifically, this is thought to affect the levels of two hormones. One is called Serotonin, which affects mood. The other is called Melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Production of Melatonin
Studies have found that when people are exposed to bright light early in the morning, their production of melatonin occurs earlier in the evening. This means it’s easier for them to fall asleep at the correct time.
As the seasons change, our bodies need to learn to advance our production of melatonin. When sunrise occurs later and later, this is called melatonin phase advancement.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Symptoms
One idea is that people with irregularly long body clock cycles find it more difficult to adjust to these seasonal changes. This leads to symptoms such as low mood fatigue, all of which are commonly associated with SAD.
It’s thought that this disorder is a biochemical evolutionary hangover from our mammalian ancestors. They typically hibernated during the winter months, but, enough with the winter doom-and-gloom, because summer is finally here. So get outside and take advantage of that sunny weather.
When comes September, the idea of the looming winter months is getting you down. You can always just go and live in Yuma Arizona, which has over 90% sunlight during its daylight hours. It is the world’s sunniest place.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Treatment
Light works through your nerves and says to the brain, “Now you have to give produce serotonin.” You have to make serotonin because there is enough light, which will make your mood better quite soon. It takes only two to three days to be better.
People who buy the specially designed lights are reporting feeling much more energized after using them. In the UK, over a half a million people suffer the condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).