If you reside in one of the many U.S. states that Mother Nature has made her prey this winter, you know firsthand that everyone could use a little (warm) sunshine in their bones this February. The days are short, the sunlight is limited, and the temperatures are cold. There’s not much to be excited about, leaving many down in the dumps, but there’s still a distinction between the typical mid-winter blues and a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is type of depression that affects a person during the same season each year, according to WebMD, and though it can occur in individuals who live in warmer climates, it is most common in people who live in areas where winter days are very short and where there is a big change in the amount of daylight available during different seasons.
According to MedicineNet.com, the disorder occurs in 1 percent to 10 percent of adults, and its prevalence is typically dependent on geographical location. While seasonal affective disorder is less common in areas where there is snow on the ground, it is about four times more common in women than men, and the average age of people when they first develop this illness is 23 years of age, though the range of those most commonly affected is generally believed to be between 15 and 55. Those with relatives who experience SAD are also more inclined to experience symptoms.
One of the most important parts of understanding a SAD diagnosis is recognizing what triggers the specific type of depression and how it can be treated. Although the specific cause of the depression remains unknown, the Mayo Clinic reports that the body’s natural chemical makeup coupled with outside triggers are believed to play a role in the development of the condition.