Happiness is an inside job. And on the flip side of that coin, depression — a mood disorder — is a condition that also primarily originates from inside our minds. Happiness is an action word. It requires a decision. And happiness does not have to wait.
Take the winter months, for example. If you are an outdoor enthusiast — and we assume you are if you’re perusing our NCOAE website — you know the true meaning of “winter blues.” Often, we find ourselves cooped up inside, postponing our happiness until the spring.
When it’s unbearably cold, windy, and wet outside, many of us feel out of sorts. We’re moody, have no energy, and we’re eager to get outside. Unfavorable weather conditions often put a halt to those plans, or seriously limit our participation.
Doctors have a name for this mental anguish, and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We’re not trying to be cute or funny here, because it really is SAD. It’s a form of depression that is directly related to changes in season, usually beginning in the late fall and continuing throughout the winter months.
Doctors put part of the blame on the decrease in sunlight in fall and winter that can disrupt your internal clock. That same lack of sun beams can prompt a drop in serotonin — a chemical in the brain that affects mood. Finally, the seasonal change can increase the production of melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle in the body and plays a big role in sleep patterns.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of SAD may include: