Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Seasonal Affective Disorder and its Effects :: Seasonal Affective Disorder Health Essays

Seasonal Affective Disorder and its Effects Why is it that in dark, cloudy weather I take on a gloomy personality? Why do suicide rates drastically increase during the winter months? Why is the overall student body at USC much happier than the average Mawrtyr? Why do I constantly find myself fatigued and lethargic when the weather outside is lousy? For one reason or another, I allow the whims of Mother Nature to determine how I think and feel. If I wake up and the sun is brightly shining through my window creating a beautiful mixture of dark and light shadows, I suddenly feel happy and look forward to the day ahead. On the other hand, if I wake up and look out onto another cloudy and cold day in February at Bryn Mawr, I have the aching desire to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. I am not alone in that my mood and disposition are determined daily during those first few moments in which I am awake. In fact, this phenomenon is shared by many. The general feeling of winter depression coupled with normal mood in the summer has been around for centuries, but it was not until the 1980s that it was characterized as a type of clinical depression (1). Psychologists have long been studying the effects of what they now refer to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the biological condition associated with changes in weather patterns. Can Seasonal Affective Disorder be considered a true medical condition? Everyone reacts to the changing seasons with corresponding changes in mood and behavior, but some experience more severe symptoms which alter their whole way of life. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to first appear in late September when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, and last until April or May. Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by recurring periods of depression lasting for at least two successive years of seasonal change (2). Other symptoms include a voracious appetite involving a high carbohydrate craving and accompanied by a 10-20 pound weight gain, sleep problems, memory loss, suicidal thoughts, problems concentrating, and an overall lack of interest in or enjoyment of activities. Unlike other forms of clinical depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder involves the cyclical pattern of depression that comes as the amount of daylight hours decrease and disappears as the days get longer (1). SAD patients often have hypersomnia during the winter and become manic or hyperactive in the spring.

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