Annual Patterns of Winter Depression and Melancholy – better known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD – suggests a strong relationship between mood and the amount of light during the day.
Simply put, less exposure to light can lower your mood.
Winter gloom is common, but about 10 million Americans are affected by a longer-lasting form of depression called depression each year. seasonal affective disorderIn addition to depressed mood, symptoms include anxiety, low self-esteem, prolonged sleep, constant cravings for carbohydrates, and reduced physical activity levels.
Through research, I learned that seasonal affective disorder can happen to anyone. but, A history of mood disorders is at increased riskEspecially young people and women of all ages heightened susceptibility.
Why Seasonal Depression Occurs
When daylight saving time ends each fall, a one-hour reverse shift reduces the amount of light most people receive in their 24-hour cycle. As the days get shorter, people may experience general moodiness and long-term depression associated with less time in the sun.
This is caused by deviations between sleep and wake cycles, meal schedules, and other daily activities.Research suggests that this mismatch may be related to poor mental health outcomessuch as anxiety and depression.
When our brain receives limited sunlight signals, Releases melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep This can affect how much energy we have and when and how much we eat. Also changes in the environment It can also change the brain’s ability to adapt toThis process called neuron plasticity, with the growth and organization of neural networks. This is important for brain repair, maintenance, and overall function.
Is possible Readjust your circadian rhythm To fit in with the new light and dark schedule. This means getting in the sun as soon as possible after waking up, which means getting your sleep, exercise and eating routines more in sync with your pre-time change routines. Eventually, you can gradually transition to your new schedule.
Close relationship between serotonin and melatonin
Serotonin is a chemical messenger in the brain and plays an important role in regulating several functions such as Mood, Appetite, Circadian RhythmSerotonin is also converted to melatonin at lower light intensities. As mentioned earlier, melatonin is the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep.
Reduced sun exposure during winter converts serotonin to melatonin early in the evening, because it gets dark early.As a result, this premature release of melatonin causes disruption of the sleep-wake cycle. People with seasonal affective disorder often Craving foods rich in simple sugars, such as sweetsbecause there is a close relationship between carbohydrate consumption, appetite regulation, sleep.
Strategies for fighting the winter blues
In winter, most people leave work when it gets dark. For this, Phototherapy is usually recommended For those experiencing seasonal affective disorder or short periods of seasonal funk.
This can be as simple as turning on the light immediately after waking up. Get at least an hour of early morning sunlight, preferably about an hour, in natural light. 1 hour after normal wake-up time The time when the circadian clock is most sensitive to light. This is the same in the morning, regardless of when you wake up. For people living in northern latitudes where the sun rarely hits in winter, the phototherapy box – Reproduce outdoor light – Effective.
Avoiding coffee, tea, and heavy meals before bed can also improve sleep quality. Exercise during the day is also OK – Increases serotonin production and supports circadian regulation.A balanced diet of complex carbohydrates and healthy proteins Supports steady serotonin and melatonin productionPracticing downtime before bed can help reduce stress.
By taking these small steps, you can adjust your circadian rhythm faster. For millions of people with mood disorders, it could literally mean happier times in the darkest of days.