Seasonal Anxiety Disorder is a common condition affecting many teens and adults in the fall to winter months. There is a small amount of people that actually suffer symptoms in the warmer spring and summer months. It is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The disorder is based on the cycles of the seasons and changing sunlight. Symptoms include; anxiety, depression, apathy, excessive sleepiness and excessive intake of carbohydrates.
Many people that suffer from the disorder do not understand why they feel so bad with the change of seasons. Researchers are not completely clear on what causes seasonal anxiety or affective disorder, but they believe it could either be a deficiency in vitamin D or Serotonin levels due to the lack of sunlight during the darker winter months. During the summer months, the sleep-wake cycle is also disrupted due to added sunlight. Some people are just more sensitive to these changes and the chemicals that regulate tend to get “thrown off,” for a period of time and then when the seasons change they tend to feel better.
People who have SAD tend to be sleepier during the day, suffer mood swings and eat more. It is usually diagnosed after two years of having these symptoms and then feeling better after the change of seasons. It is usually treated by adding a light with extra UV (ultraviolet) capabilities to mimic sunlight. It is also helpful to increase exposure to sunlight during the day without the use of sunglasses. The eyes are the biggest receptor to help the body make vitamin D.
Some SAD sufferers can benefit from therapy and learning behavioral techniques to deal with their symptoms. This is most effective when coupled with light therapy. Exercise in the morning hours can help increase energy levels throughout the day. When using light therapy, try to find a UV light that mimics dawn light. The light comes on dimly in the early morning hours and then increases in brightness to mimic the natural wake cycle.
Seasonal anxiety can be dealt with if you have the proper tools to keep your body functioning normally during the change of seasons. UV light kits can be found online, at any reptile store or a grower supply company. They can be pre-made or built into a special box that you put close to where you sit or sleep in the house. The important factor is that once you begin using a UV light, you need to continue through the entire season to prevent symptoms from returning.
SAD doesn’t need to interrupt your daily activities and many sufferers enjoy a near normal quality of life during seasonal changes. It just takes changing with the seasons and making sure you get a proper diet, plenty of sunlight, rest and exercise.