It’s natural to feel a little sad as you replace your summer clothes with sweaters and heavy coats. But if you consistently feel symptoms of depression during the winter months, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.Common SAD symptoms include:
Lack of interest in your usual activities
Feeling less active
Changes in sleep patterns
Increased carbohydrate craving and weight gainDifficulty concentrating on regular tasks
Here’s what you need to know:
What is it?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually around late fall and winter. Studies have indicated that 75% of diagnosed cases are women.
Many experience symptoms and dismiss them as ‘winter blues,’ but it is important to remember that there is a spectrum of seasonal depression—some cases are milder than others. No need to tough it out if you can take steps toward balancing your mood throughout the year.
What causes SAD?
The exact causes of SAD are unclear, but research has found a direct link to lack of sunlight. Experts have also found links pointing to melatonin and serotonin, two chemicals that help regulate our sleep-wake cycles. The human body produces more Melatonin when it’s dark and days are shorter. This increase can cause us to feel drowsy and tired. On the other hand, serotonin production goes up when a person is exposed to sunlight. This may account for a natural dip in the winter.
What can I do?
While proper diet and exercise may not cure SAD, good habits may help you cope more effectively. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. For milder symptoms, here are a few helpful ways to make life feel a little easier in the Winter. You can even earn Vitality Bucks for doing some of them!
- Take daytime walk breaks during your work week
- Increase your daily vegetable intake
- Be social: don’t be afraid to ask for support from family and friends
- Light therapy–this involves sitting in front of a “light box,” or high-intensity fluorescent lamp. Studies have shown
- Keep moving!
For more information, or to take self-assessments, visit: http://www.cet.org/eng/Tools_ENG.html
Photo used under creative use license courtesy of evilerin. HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes.
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and PFFS plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in a Humana plan depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits may change each year.
This information is available for free in other languages. Please call Customer Care at the number on the back of your Humana member ID card.
Esta información está disponible gratuitamente en otros idiomas. Comuníquese con el Departamento de Atención al Cliente llamando al número en el dorso de su tarjeta de identificación de afiliado de Humana.
If you are medically unable to perform these tasks, you can call customer care and we will work with you to find another way to earn Vitality Bucks. Please call the member service number on the back of your Humana member ID card.