The Mayo Clinic Staff is very precise in the fact that there are several factors that may lend to a person feeling ‘SAD’ (having Seasonal Affective Disorder). Some specific factors presented on their website (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/causes/con-20021047) include:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Whether or not SAD comes has risk factors associated with it was presented by the team this way:
- Being female. Seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have symptoms that are more severe.
- Living far from the equator. Seasonal affective disorder appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter, and longer days during the summer months.
- Family history. As with other types of depression, those with seasonal affective disorder may be more likely to have blood relatives with the condition.
- Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
Knowing about the causes and the risks helps caregivers like me appreciate the good days and help with the bad. Relying on a team of experts that deals exclusively with SAD gives me great resources like those above to turn to when I have questions about those I serve.
Knowing I have a place to turn then allows me to concentrate on the fact that With Age Comes Respect!