Seasonal depression is a very real phenomenon of mental health during the cold, gray winter, but according to one expert there are a number of effective treatments.
Dr. Kathy Kamkar, a psychologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, joined Gormley on Thursday to discuss seasonal depression that is clinically known as seasonal affective disorder or EDD.
"While we often hear about clinical depression, we rarely hear about EDD, seasonal affective disorder," Kamkar said. "This is a type of depression that tends to be affected by the time of the year and then by the time, so symptoms usually occur during the autumn season and / or early winter."
Kamkar said the SAD is not the same as the typical mood swings that most people experience during the cold, dark months. Those who suffer from EAD will experience constantly depressed and hopeless feelings, may have less energy, increased appetite (especially hunger for carbohydrates), weight gain, lethargy and increased sleep, self-isolation and reduced interest in previous activities,
Although no specific cause of the EVA has been demonstrated, Kamkar said that reduced sunlight could affect serotonin levels in the body, a neurotransmitter that regulates happiness, and melatonin, the hormone responsible for waking.
"It is very important to seek professional help," Kamkar said.
Treatment of ADD usually takes a holistic approach, she noted, and may include psychological treatment, behavioral therapy, medication, phototherapy (light therapy), physical exercise and nutritional supplements.
In many cases, Kamkar said small changes could make a big difference for those who are experiencing the SAD. These include maintaining regular routine procedures, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exposure to natural light – even in cloudy days.
Kamkar said that seasonal affective disorder is becoming more and more global, as organizations and individuals are working to break down stigma around mental health issues.
"Everyone is responsible for talking about mental health," she said. "As physical health is important, mental health is important to each of us."