What are the Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD can be quite debilitating to those who suffer from its effects.  There are a number of factors that can cause it and not all of them may be applicable to each sufferer, but it is important to know the direct causes, so that if you do have SAD, the necessary changes can be made to help alleviate the symptoms.

SAD occurs when the natural Circadian Rhythm of the body is disrupted.  This rhythm regulates sleep patterns, energy levels, mood, digestion and appetite so any disruption or lengthy alteration of a normal daily routine can lead to some or all of these rhythms being interrupted, the direct result of which is commonly; Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The main known cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a lack of natural sunlight which increasingly in modern society is a regular occurrence with less than 10% of the population currently working outdoors and many working shift patterns.  Not receiving enough sunlight, it means that Serotonin isn’t produced by the brain which is the hormone that triggers us to feel awake, so feelings of lethargy, sluggish-ness and low energy occur.

Too much artificial light at the wrong time of day on the other hand can have the opposite effect by causing the brain to remain active for longer which leads to sleeplessness and then tiredness during the day.  The use of indoor lighting and the technology boom that sees many of us spending increasing amounts of time staring at back-lit screens is a direct cause of this.

In addition to these main causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder, people who already suffer from other forms of depression and mental health issues may be more susceptible to SAD, though research is currently being done to determine the links between them.

Should you feel that lifestyle factors may be directly causing your Seasonal Affective Disorder, or know someone who might then always seek medical advice to determine a diagnosis.

1 Comment

  1. I suffer with cluster migraine which are much worse during the winter and very infrequent during the summer. I’ve considered getting a light box, has anyone else had any success with one?

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