Edmonds, WA (Nov 27, 2014) – If you begin showing symptoms of depression at this time of year, you’re not alone. The ever-shortening days of late autumn cause many people to feel down, and there’s almost certainly a biological reason for that, according to psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, WA.
The good news is that, like depression, the condition known as “seasonal affective disorder” – appropriately abbreviated as SAD – is treatable.
“SAD sufferers don’t have to just accept and live with their depressed mood,” says Dr. Jantz, founder and director of The Center and the author of many popular books on mental health and emotional well-being. “The solution may even be as simple as getting a little more exposure to sunlight every day.”
Seasonal affective disorder has been linked to increased secretion of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone. Darkness naturally triggers melatonin production, so the steadily decreasing amount of daylight at this time of the year boosts melatonin levels in the body. With more melatonin in their system during waking hours, some people feel seriously out of synch with the artificial rhythms of modern life – a life lived according to the clock rather than by the body’s biochemical signals.
SAD affects some half-million people in the U.S. between the beginning of fall and early spring, and many more people may suffer from a less severe form of the condition. Why some people fall victim to SAD while others don’t is not yet understood, but those who do exhibit symptoms such as anxiety, apathy, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, overeating, irritability, withdrawal, lethargy and loss of interest in sex.
Increased exposure to sunlight or phototherapy with bright, full-spectrum artificial light is often an effective way to lower melatonin levels. However, Dr. Jantz suggests that anyone who feels depressed at this time of year should consult a mental health practitioner, because many people experience sadness around the holidays for complex reasons unrelated to SAD. At The Center, Dr. Jantz practices “whole-person” treatment that looks for possible physical causes of depression, but that also examines intertwined psychological, emotional, social and spiritual factors that may contribute to it. The Center can be reached at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166.