Seasonal Affective Disorder and How SAD Can Affect You.
As I’m writing this blog, I’m currently in Huntington Beach, CA. I love California, but there’s one thing that I am having a hard time adapting to. Every morning is overcast, foggy, and downright dreary till at least noon. I noticed my moods in the morning since I’ve been here, have been lethargic, unmotivated, anxious, and almost depressed. I started to wonder why this was, so I did some research, and what I found is that these are some of the symptoms of S.A.D, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
According to an article I read on the Mayo Clinic website, “Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. You may have SAD if you felt depressed during the last two winters but felt much better in spring and summer. Some people may have SAD during the summer months. Experts aren’t sure what causes SAD. But they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight.”
Now I come from Florida where its sunny 99.9% of the time, so I found the lack of sunlight theory interesting, so I looked into what lack of sunlight can really do to someone.
So we all know too much sun can give you skin cancer, but a lack of sunshine, which provides Vitamin D, can also increase your risk of certain cancers. Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to the development of prostate and breast cancer, memory loss, and an increased risk for developing dementia and schizophrenia. Research also shows that Vitamin D deficiencies in men caused by insufficient sunlight make them twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Now along with Vitamin D, the sun also supplies us with Nitric Oxide, or NO. NO is ESSENTIAL to the human body as a tool for regulating important bodily processes, such as metabolism. Proper exposure to NO from the sun will help keep your metabolism running smoothly and discourage overeating. And we all know how we feel after over eating. Tired and lethargic. Not to mention that overeating can also lead to other problems such as obesity and heart problems.
Lack of sunlight can also lead to depression. The less sunlight we see, the more likely we are to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some of the symptoms of this disorder are mood swings, anxiety, sleep problems, or even suicidal thoughts, and these symptoms can become extreme the more you go without sunlight.
I have to admit, this next thing I am guilty of… I do this every night, as I think most of us do. Right after I crawl into bed, I have to check my Facebook newsfeed. Turns out, lying in bed at night scrolling through our Facebook newsfeeds, or doing anything involving electronics, has a big impact on our brains. Once the sun goes down, artificial lights emitted by electronics can create serious sleep problems. Too much light in your eyes from computer or phone screens can throw off your circadian rhythm. That’s your bodies “internal clock”. This can cause significant restlessness and potentially insomnia in the future. These symptoms can also lead to depression.
Now being a touring musician, and performing until the wee hours of the morning, I tend to generally sleep during the day. But it turns out, that this too, can be a problem. Those who spend an extended time at night exposed to artificial lights have shown to be more prone to the development of breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not uncommon for me to be in these conditions on a nightly basis for 6-8 hours at a time, so this too could be a cause.
Now those are just some of the symptoms and side effects of SAD, or a lack of sunlight in general. I started to wonder if this is a frequent occurrence among people. In an article on familydoctor.org it states that “between 4% and 6% of people in the United States suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience a mild form SAD, and is more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than 20 years of age.” So it doesn’t seem, to me anyway, that this is an issue for most people.
So after all these interesting tidbits of information I learned, I came to the conclusion that I need sunlight. I’m just one of those people, I guess. I’m so looking forward to being back in sunny Florida, on the beach, and a nice cold drink. After all, who wouldn’t be happy with that?
—Wyatt P., Florida