Do you wonder if you have seasonal sadness or a seasonal depression? This might be a good question to ask. There are several reasons as to why someone might suffer from seasonal depression during winter.
The sensitive seasonal depression
Sunlight has an effect on our hormonal system via, among others, the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Because of the lessened amount of sunlight which the eye receives, chances of becoming depressed increase. Some people are more sensitive than others are. In English literature this phenomenon is also known as 'seasonal affective disorder', or SAD.
Seasonal depression due to a lack of vitamin D
The lack of sunlight can lead to a decreased production of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D plays a role in preventing a lot of diseases. Viral infections and bronchitis are more common if vitamin D is lacking. There also are studies which suggest that the risk of cancer is increased slightly because of reduced immunity. Important, however, is that a deficiency of vitamin D also can increase chances of getting depression. Thus, seasonal depression can be caused in part to low levels of vitamin D. Your doctor can check the vitamin D levels in your blood in order to see if this might be the case.
Seasonal depression due to a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA
the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA protect us from depression. These are found in fish oil and in certain vegetables. When there is a deficiency of the specific omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, chances are increased that you might develop a depression. So make sure to eat enough fish during winter, or take fish oil in order to prevent seasonal depression.
Which symptoms can indicate seasonal depression?
- less energy
- apathy or apathetic feelings
- issues concentrating
- memory loss or reduction of short-term working memory
- not wanting to do anything
- feeling unhappy
- low self-confidence
- negative thoughts
- loneliness or starting to isolate yourself
- responding in an irritable way to others
- seeing problems instead of solutions everywhere
How do you treat seasonal depression?
We developed the online self-help program '15Minutes4Me.com' to treat seasonal depression and other forms of depression. You sign up and take a test to measure how depressed you are. Depending on your results, you will then receive daily guidance with solution focused questions which help you think about what does help and what does not. In a series of videos, our doctors explain to you how you can recognized depression, handle it, cure it, and later on prevent it. This program also sends you a weekly report with your evolution so that you can talk about this to your doctor or treating physician. This way, they are also aware of your improvements, at least, if you want them to be. You can also invite family members into the program to support you. We then teach them how they can help or support you. We also help them to understand you better. However, you are not obliged to invite them. Your doctor can also help you to check if you have a vitamin D deficiency and treat this if needed in order to work together with this self-help program.
Free depression test for seasonal depression
Do you want to know if you suffer from a depression or seasonal depression? THen take our free depression test and click here. I wish you all the best in finding the solution to your seasonal depression.
Paul Koeck, MD.