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Circadian Rhythm and Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder symptoms

After September 21st the days with start getting shorter, and before long the sun will down by the time most individuals finish work for the day. Nothing can be done about that, but some people do better with this change of season and lesser daylight than others do. These tend to be the same people who are asleep within minutes of their head hitting the pillows and wake up fully refreshed each AM. That means their circadian rhythm is as it should be, but for some people the change of summer into fall and then winter means the arrival of seasonal affective disorder symptoms.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a fitting acronym as ‘sad’ is exactly how many people feel when the days become shorter and there’s much less natural daylight. Some individuals also find that their circadian rhythm may change because of it as well, and as we all know when you’re not sleeping well it affects your entire life. Experiencing an alteration in circadian rhythm and having depression-like symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can be a lot to manage.

Mentioning depression it is worth noting because many of the same medications that brighten outlooks and improve moods for people with depression have the same benefits for people with SAD. There are also non-medicinal approaches like light therapy and good sleep hygiene practices along with knowing how to ‘wind down’ properly can do wonders for re-establishing a person’s circadian rhythm. No one will argue it is not a big challenge to reclaim it, but it is doable and so is countering seasonal affective disorder.

Able to Overcome

Anyone with severe seasonal affective disorder symptoms like mood instability, inability to focus, insomnia, irritability, emotional disconnection, or others will almost certainly benefit from temporary use of an antidepressant like Elavil. These medications work well because at the root of seasonal affective disorder symptoms is the same issue as clinical depression, and that’s severe imbalances with neurotransmitters in the brain. There are 4 of them that are primary ones, and it is usually that people with SAD are lacking in 2 of them in particular - serotonin and dopamine.

If we are to look on the ‘bright’ side, seasonal affective disorder and its symptoms are often only temporary for people. Still, feeling unwell for 6 months until the spring-time is a long time to be mentally unwell, so it is advisable for to look into using medication if you feel you or someone you love are strongly affected by this condition. Elavil is not the only antidepressant medication for SAD, and Elavil side effects may mean that a different one is a better fit. Some Elavil side effects can include dry mouth, drowsiness and dizziness, but for most people they are mild and may depend on the Elavil dosage.

The Connection between SAD and Circadian Rhythm

We always try to avoid being overly technical and / or scientific with our entries here, and we’ll do the same in looking at seasonal affective disorder symptoms and how the condition can be tied into the circadian rhythms being thrown out of whack. Your ‘bodily clock’ has molecular origins and the amount of light that passes into your eyes sends neural signals to specific types of neurons originating in the brain. Certain actions taken by these neurons are then turned on and off.

If the changes in volume of natural light exposure were gradual and not sudden then the body would adjust to the change naturally. But that’s not how the change of seasons works. And so, when neuron actions that should be on are off and ones that should be off are on, then seasonal affective disorder symptoms become very pronounced. The most standard of these abnormalities is decreased melatonin production as part of seasonal affective disorder.

Using an antidepressant medication won’t correct these temporary imbalances, but it will mediate the symptoms and see to it that quality of life and / or workplace productivity isn’t affected too much. Plus, you’re quite likely sleep better too.

Artificial is OK

We’ll wrap things up here by talking about something we touched on briefly at the start. Light therapy may well be the best way to address seasonal affective disorder symptoms, and for many people even sitting in front of an artificial sunlight lamp for 10 to 15 minutes every morning within 30 minutes of waking up can go a long way in making SAD much less of a problem. These lights are not very expensive, and there are even small portable ones that you can take along with you to work. Stress management can certainly be helpful to when it comes to reducing seasonal affective disorder symptoms.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.


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