Snow is in the forecast for later this week and the more snow we get the more SAD we become. SAD is the acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a form of depression or mental illness that is developed during winter months due to weather and shorter days. With more snow in the forecast this week in March the prolonged effects of SAD linger. The snow is expected tonight into tomorrow morning with three to five inches expected across most states with as high as 12 inches in some southern states. Spring is just a few days away, and yet it would be premature to put the shovels away.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians four to six percent of people may have this form of winter depression. The symptoms are a change in appetite, cravings for sweet or starchy foods, weight gain, and a decrease in energy, fatigue and sleepiness. SAD is also four times more common in women than in men, and tends to start in adults age 20 and older, although some teens have mild forms of it. The effects of SAD seem to exacerbate other mental disorders during the winter months. Psychiatrists have reported their patient’s symptoms were more severe during winter months due to the increase number of hours of darkness than in summer months.
Another factor that plays into the role of winter depression or SAD is more practical, due to extreme weather like snow, ice and freezing temperatures, people are forced to stay indoors and thus are less social than they are in warmer months which can bring about a feeling of isolation. It is not just the snow but all that comes with it can be another reason why people are experiencing SAD.
There are physical and mental tolls on the mind and body that come with snowfall from shoveling it, driving in it, and trying to maneuver in it. During winter months, because of temperatures and road conditions people are less active because they cannot get to their respective gyms or the weather is preventing their usual outdoor workout routines. Due to bad weather people are more inclined to stay indoors or stay in their local neighborhoods where they can get around on foot as opposed to shoveling out their vehicles and trying to maneuver the roads despite the conditions outdoors.
The term SAD first came into play in 1985 and can also be known as “winter blues,” and although most people experience SAD during the fall months lasting until spring, SAD can also be experienced during summer months as well. It is seasonal affective disorder and some people are adverse to a change in seasons whether it is summer to fall or winter to spring.
There are a several symptoms of SAD disorder but only a few suggestions on ways to combat it, as recommended by Dr. Oz. He suggests a brisk 20 minute walk outside, blue-light therapy for one hour a day, and a Vitamin D-3 supplement to substitute for the natural Vitamin D derived from the sun, however, walking for twenty minutes is relative to the temperatures and conditions outdoors. With the latest report of snow this week, snowfall is increasing and this is SAD.
By Debra Pittman