WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, tends to flare up each fall and winter. The disorder often peaks around December, but symptoms often begin in September and October.
SAD is a type of depression. Symptoms include fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite and weight, and social withdrawal.
Although experts have not identified a single cause for this disorder, most experts believe that vitamin D deficiency is a significant culprit. According to Maggi Rocha from the Behavioral Health Clinic, sunlight exposure plays an important role in regulating mood, and during the darker months of the year, this can be a pressing issue.
“We need more sunlight, we need to get outside. And there’s a physical truth to that…because it has such a huge impact on our mood and mood,” Rocha says. I did.
However, Rocha also pointed out that SAD is not only related to lack of sunlight. There are social aspects to consider. Many people tend to stay indoors during the winter and engage in less social activity, which can make symptoms worse.
“In the summer…you see families walking with their kids. They’re getting outside to do more activities and things,” Rocha said. “Compared to the winter, especially here in Wisconsin, there aren’t necessarily as many things for individuals to do outside, and some may not be able to get outside in the winter due to various physical limitations such as mobility or just the cold. ” ”
Rocha said dark winter conditions can also have a serious impact.
“When I look out the window, well, it’s not this colorful flowery green. I see white. I see a dark gray feeling. It’s rainy. It’s cloudy most of the time. Even if it’s sunny, you can’t see the snow because of the sun.”
SAD is more prevalent in northern states such as Wisconsin than in southern states. Its proximity to the North and South poles results in large variations in daylight hours, with northern regions experiencing significantly shorter daylight hours during the winter.
“As we head into winter, we move further away from the sun, which means fewer hours of daylight,” says WSAW meteorologist Mark Hawley. He noted that the transition from late summer to early autumn is particularly pronounced, with daylight hours decreasing faster.
Wisconsin loses an hour and a half of daylight in September alone. With the prospect of even darker days ahead, Rocha said it was important to take proactive measures.
“Typically, what we recommend for each individual is to contact their primary care physician and discuss including things like vitamin D therapy. “This is just to make sure we’re a little bit ahead of the curve. Just look at the game a little bit,” she said. “A lot of times people don’t necessarily realize that they’re starting to get depressed, so they just kind of get depressed until it gets to more of a deep, dark spot that it really is.” .Plan or plan to fail.”
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