Spring should be sprung all over the country, yet persistent climate changes have kept the weather glum. April showers bring May flowers, but May has been gray and June gloom awaits in many areas. Long lasting winter and dark weather can have an affect on mental health with the very real seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression.
According to The Independent which wrote extensively on the way sunlight deprivation is experienced around the world, “Seasonality is reported by approximately 10 to 20 per cent of people with depression and 15 to 22 percent of those with bipolar disorder.” Those with preexisting mental health disorders prone to periods of sadness and depression are not the only ones to experience SAD. “Even healthy people who have no seasonal problems seem to experience this low-amplitude change over the year, with worse mood and energy during autumn and winter and an improvement in spring and summer,” the article explains.
Winter time, or a prolonged season of winter-like days can be draining in physical and mental health. Most fingers point to the way a lack of sunlight messes with the body’s natural circadian clock. Our circadian rhythm is what helps us wake up in the morning and be tired by nightfall. In a normal 24 hour cycle, we have a natural programming for when to be asleep. Constant lack of sunlight mimics the nighttime and causes the circadian cycle to become confused. Should we be awake or asleep? During winter months specifically, daylight hours are shorter. Instead of being overcast and cloudy, the days are filled with dark. The effect can be the same for extended seasons full of gloom and rain covering the skies. The Independent explains that this theory is called the “phase-shift hypothesis” which points to melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone which helps the body feel that circadian-scheduled sleepiness. Too much darkness, or, too little sunshine, can produce too much melatonin, causing more drowsiness, and sleepiness, which can lead to feelings of depression and lethargy.
Coping with long periods of the blues often leads people to fill their time with drugs and alcohol. If you experience difficulty coping with the phases of life and turn to substances to cope, there is help available. Call Enlightened Solutions today for information on our partial care programs for dual diagnosis addiction and mental health disorders. 833-801-5483.
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