Seasonal depression occurs in early fall in some people. The risk of being affected varies from one individual to another, depending on gender, age or medical history.
- The arrival of fall may coincide with the start of seasonal depression for some people.
- Also called “seasonal affective disorder”, it is different from other types of depression.
- Certain categories of people are more at risk.
Autumn is upon us, the leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. This season affects people differently, some particularly love it while others suffer from seasonal depression. Also known as “seasonal affective disorder”, this condition is caused by a decrease in natural light. According to scientists, a lack of sunlight leads to a drop in serotonin levels in the body, which can lead to mood disorders and even depression.
Diagnosing seasonal depression
“It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate seasonal affective disorder from other types of depression.”explains Jenny Larson, professor at the University of Minnesota, in a article. But seasonal depression is characterized by the period of onset and its recurrence. The diagnosis is made after two consecutive disorders, which begin and end at the same time during the year. Patients may experience anxiety, social disturbances, sleep and mood problems, as well as changes in their diet leading to weight gain. Some people experience some form of lethargy, a feeling of intense fatigue that prevents them from carrying out daily activities.
What is the profile of people affected by seasonal depression?
About 5% of Americans – and the French – suffer from seasonal depression, but this figure reaches 10% in the far north of the United States, according to Jenny Larson. Women are also more affected. This pathology only affects adults, with the first symptoms generally appearing between the ages of 20 and 30. THE National Institute of Mental Health, an American organization specializing in mental health, also notes that people with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder are at greater risk of seasonal depression. The latter is also “more common in people who have loved ones with other mental illnesses, such as depression or schizophrenia.”
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on seasonal depression
Past years, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, have also had an impact on mental health and the risk of seasonal depression. According to Jeannie Larson, the pandemic may have triggered cases of seasonal affective disorder. “Preliminary symptoms of seasonal affective disorder could exacerbate anxieties related to Covid-19, which would make individuals less able to manage these situations, compared to the pre-epidemic period. says Jeannie Larson. In other words, symptoms could get worse as winter sets in, while the person is already feeling stressed about the pandemic, worsening their feelings of being stressed, isolated or anxious.“. However, seasonal depression can be treated, and if symptoms appear, you should consult a health professional who will refer you to the most common treatments such as a course of vitamin D, light therapy, even psychotherapy or even antidepressants.