|Do you find yourself feeling depressed as the season changes from fall to winter? Are you experiencing cravings for sweet foods and carbohydrates? Are your energy levels low? Do you constantly feel hopeless, frustrated, and anxious? Have you had thoughts of hopelessness and despair?
Most of us generally feel more upbeat and positive with a spring in our step when the weather is sunny and bright. When the weather is gloomy, cold and dismal, our moods slump and we feel a bit down and beating off seasonal depression can be difficult. However, in some people these mood shifts develop into a type of depression that accompanies seasonal changes and affects their ability to function normally.
Recurrent episodes of clinical depression that surface during seasonal changes, particularly winter and/or during the holidays, are referred to as seasonal depression – or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also commonly called seasonal mood disorder. This condition is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that governs the primary functions of the body such as appetite, temperature, sleep, sex drive, mood and activity.
The hypothalamus is stimulated by natural light entering the eye and striking the retina. When the days are short and sunlight is reduced, the hypothalamus has to adjust its response to the various body mechanisms, slowing down these functions. A milder form of this type of depression is more commonly referred to as winter depression, winter blues, cabin fever or hibernation reaction. Other names for this condition include the holiday blues, holiday depression, or holiday grief.