An imbalance in the brain’s biochemistry causes seasonal affective disorder. Shorter daylight hours and less exposure to sunlight, which your body needs as a cue to generate chemicals and hormones that indicate whether you should be awake or asleep, cause SAD.
Sunlight activates the hypothalamus, a brain region regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. Lack of the sun and issues with specific brain chemicals in SAD patients prevent the hypothalamus from functioning properly, and therefore impact:
- The process of melatonin synthesis (a hormone that affects sleep)
- Disturb the body’s circadian rhythm (or internal clock, which controls several biological activities, including mood, sleep, digestion, appetite and energy levels throughout 24 hours)
- The process of serotonin synthesis (a hormone that regulates mood, appetite and sleep)
SAD is four times more common in women than men, and those who live further from the equator are more prone to experience it. The risk for SAD increases with age, peaking between the age of 18 and 30.
Attention deficit, indecision, sleep disturbance, eating disorder, weight and energy loss, anxiety, and restlessness are some symptoms that indicate a seasonal affective disorder. Although these behaviours are also related to wintertime blues, they may also be connected to SAD if the severity doesn’t die over time.
Noticing any symptoms? Prioritise your mental health and contact us!