Depression, also known as the cold of the heart, is a disease that causes various mental and physical abnormalities with a decrease in motivation and depression as the main symptoms. It is known to be caused by various factors such as imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, living and environmental stress, physical diseases, and drugs. In particular, it is known that these symptoms of depression occur more frequently in autumn or winter when sunlight is less than in summer, when sunlight and activity are high, and the symptoms become more severe. Depression caused by seasonal changes is called seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder and SAD. Now, let’s take a closer look at the main causes and symptoms of seasonal depression, and various ways to help you overcome them.
Seasonal Depression Causes and Symptoms
The main cause of seasonal depression is not yet clear, but there are many views that it occurs because the seasons change and the amount of sunlight decreases, which affects the secretion of hormones in our body. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter called happiness hormone, is synthesized smoothly in our body when exposed to sunlight. As a result, immunity to depression is weakened, and biological rhythms are broken, which can be said to be the symptom of depression.
In addition, melatonin, an amino acid that is secreted from the pineal gland in the brain and plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, is mainly secreted at night. In autumn and winter, when the days are shorter and the amount becomes excessive, you feel sagging and sinking along with excessive sleep. Due to the nature of the occurrence, which is greatly affected by the amount of sunlight, symptoms worsen in autumn and winter, and in spring and winter when the amount of sunlight increases, it usually recovers and improves on its own. And it occurs more frequently in northern hemisphere countries with relatively little sunlight in winter than in countries with a lot of sunlight, and it is known that it occurs twice as often in women than in men.
When such seasonal depression occurs, symptoms such as lethargy, poor concentration, and mood swings appear along with a feeling of sagging of the body. In addition, most depression feels the same symptoms as loss of appetite, but in seasonal depression, appetite increases and carbohydrate intake increases, resulting in weight gain. An increase in the urge to consume sugar-rich foods is also a major symptom of seasonal depression.
And while people with general depression suffer from insomnia symptoms of not getting enough sleep, patients with seasonal depression are characterized by too much sleep because melatonin, which is involved in sleep, increases. For this reason, I often lie down lethargic all day.
How to overcome seasonal depression
As it is known that lack of sunlight is the main cause of seasonal depression, it is important to get enough sunlight. Exposure to sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day is important because it helps in activating the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood, appetite, and sleep control by producing vitamin D. Vitamin D, in particular, is an essential component that is directly related to the body’s immune system. In autumn and winter, when seasonal depression occurs, the immune system is also prone to decline due to the sudden drop in temperature and the temperature difference between day and night. In addition, when outdoor activities are difficult, brightening the indoor lighting and opening the curtains wide during the day to create a bright environment with plenty of light is said to help relieve symptoms and relieve depression.
2. Regular exercise habits
Exercising regularly is an important management habit just as important as exposure to sunlight. It is said that if you decide on an exercise you can do consistently, such as walking, light jogging, and swimming, and make it a habit, it will help you prevent and overcome seasonal depression. In addition, it is said that such exercise has a good effect in relieving stress as well as the effect of obtaining mental and physical satisfaction by increasing energy. It is important to keep practicing because if you do it outdoors during the daytime, you can get the effect of sun exposure at the same time.
3. Maintain a regular sleeping habit
Getting into the habit of going to bed at a certain time regularly also helps to stabilize the circadian rhythm, so it is said to help prevent symptoms. It is also said that it is not good to be exposed to bright light or use a smartphone while sleeping. In particular, blue light emitted from IT devices such as smartphones and tablets is a factor that disturbs the circadian rhythm.
When you feel depressed, it is important to express your feelings honestly and communicate while hanging out with family, friends, and colleagues. These emotional expressions help to find psychological stability and at the same time relieve stress properly, so it is said to be very helpful in overcoming seasonal depression. Therefore, it is recommended to have a good time by sharing leisure time happily and doing hobbies and sports together.
5. Eat foods that help relieve depression
In order to prevent and overcome seasonal depression, it is also necessary to eat a variety of foods that help relieve depression and relieve stress. In particular, it is important to consume enough nutrients such as vitamin D and tryptophan, which are nutrients that help the synthesis of serotonin.
Bananas, nuts and seeds, milk, eggs, spinach, mackerel, salmon, sardines, whole grains, etc. are foods high in vitamin D and tryptophan, so it is recommended to consume them regularly. Also, please note that not only eating these foods, but also drinking enough water helps to activate the metabolism and improve the symptoms of seasonal depression.
6. Diagnosis and treatment by a specialist
If the symptoms of seasonal depression continue, it may be a way to get a diagnosis and treatment from a specialist. Since seasonal depression is regarded as a temporary phenomenon caused by sunlight and can lead to serious depression if left unattended, it is important to receive appropriate treatment if symptoms persist. This treatment consists of several treatments, such as phototherapy, which involves exposure to strong light for a period of time each day, or administration of antidepressants.