Weil Wright, senior director of the American Psychological Association's Office of Health Innovation and Practice, said seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of major depression. What makes SAD unique is its timing - the disorder has a distinct seasonal onset, usually in winter, and a spontaneous remission of symptoms.
The classic symptoms of depression are sadness, irritability, trouble concentrating, lack of interest in activities, increased sleepiness and appetite. However, it does not have to be cold and snowy outside, and people can experience symptoms of SAR in sunny climates such as Florida or Southern California.
“An important factor for all forms of ATS is the impact of your surroundings. And also - the lighting that accompanies you during periods of waking: when you fall asleep, when you wake up - it all has a significant impact on mood,”- told The New York Times Dr. Amit Atkin, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.
Michael Terman, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and founder of the Center for Environmental Therapy, said that sufferers of SAD tend to gain weight and feel lethargic during the winter. But to get a diagnosis, you need to have at least five of the nine clinical symptoms for at least two weeks, said Paul Desan, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School. If there are few symptoms, it may be subsyndromic SAD, a milder variant commonly referred to as "winter blues."
Many forms of depression, according to Dr. Wright, are corrected with changes in sleep patterns, diet, exercise, and social interaction. For example, even if you want to go to bed late, set your alarm to wake up early so you can enjoy the morning sun every day. It helps with the symptoms of SAD.
And Dr. Atkin suggests observing basic sleep hygiene, for example, avoiding gadget screens (and any artificial lighting), falling asleep regularly at the same time, a minimum of caffeine or alcohol, which can affect the quality of rest and the ability to wake up active.
Light is also important - it activates a bodily signal that tells your cells what time of day it is. Morning light triggers a spike in cortisol, giving you energy. The timing of this initial burst determines when your brain releases melatonin, a hormone that makes you yawn and relax before bed. In the winter, people often get less light in the morning and too much artificial light at night, which confuses signals, affecting sleep and mood.
Psychologists also advise avoiding excessive concern about health and information on the topic. If you are anxious and constantly want to search for medical information on the Internet, scientists advise you to keep your hands and mind occupied with activities such as coloring, knitting, or reading.
It is also important how you feel about your health in general. If you have anxiety and hypochondria, you can break these thinking patterns through cognitive reframing: questioning your anxious thoughts and trying to create a more realistic assessment of your health. To do this, take a specific thought (for example, "I am terribly tired this week, so I must be sick") and think of other ways to look at the situation ("I worked hard and saved on sleep, so I am exhausted") …
If you cannot cope on your own, doctors recommend consulting a specialist.
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