How To Prevent Seasonal Mood Disorder


When the winter season arrives, the days begin to get shorter and shorter. During seasonal shifts, it is not uncommon for people to experience alterations in their moods. Commonly, negative feelings and attitudes are associated with the winter months. Though it was once believed to be simply a dislike for the cold; research in recent decades has shown otherwise. Indications suggest that the bad moods that are felt in the autumn and winter are not solely caused by an affinity for the spring and summer seasons.

In fact, since 1984 psychiatrists have been testing and studying the ill effects that people experience during the winter.

Originally theorized by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, negative feelings and emotions during specific times of the year are often attributed to a seasonal disorder. People call it “the winter blues” or “the winter sadness” (though it may occur in summer, occasionally.) Doctors refer to this condition as seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.). Whatever the name, it is a serious condition and should be treated accordingly.

What the Causes Are

The causes of seasonal affective disorder have been researched and tested by many professionals in the fields of both psychology and psychiatry. The Harvard School of Health has established that one of the leading causes of this ailment is lowered Vitamin D levels in the affected. The reduced daylight in the winter months is a major factor to the existence of this serious malady.

Some of the factors that lead to this disorder (and many other psychological and physical ailments) are genetics, poor exercise/nutrition and poor air quality. Since genetics cannot be altered, environmental conditions and habitual changes should be taken into consideration.

Recognizing S.A.D.

If you have ever noticed a decline in either your happiness or the mood of another during specific seasons, it is highly possible that you have witnessed the effects of S.A.D.

Symptoms vary from person to person. However, some of the more common symptoms are listed below.

·    Reduced motivation

·    Lack of interest in everyday activities

·    Increased or abnormal sleeping habits

·    Insomnia

·    Altered eating habits (many sufferers report eating more carbohydrates)

·    Altered mood or attitude

These are only a few of the many ill effects that the disorder can have on individuals. Taking steps to treat and prevent the disorder can better both your mood and your life; possibly, even the moods of those around you.

S.A.D. Treatment

Light therapy

The first physician to discover and effectively treat S.A.D. was Dr. Rosenthal. He used a medical practice called light therapy to relieve the symptoms of patients. Light therapy can help to return Vitamin D to the body; restoring the necessary levels that are optimal for good health.

In many areas of the world, the period of sunlight experienced daily is gradually reduced with the passing days of autumn and winter. Areas above what is known as the 37th parallel have substantial daylight reduction in the winter. Regions such as San Francisco and Philadelphia are above the 37th parallel. Beijing and Athens also lie above this border.


The sun provides the body with Vitamin D. With less sunlight, the necessary levels of Vitamin D are not supplied to people. It is recommended by health professionals that people get at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day.

Although Vitamin D levels are a leading contributor to the disorder, new studies indicate that there are other significant variables that should be addressed.

Air Quality

New research suggests that air quality may play a major part in this seasonal condition. During the winter, many people are more confined due to the cold. The air of an office or home can become contaminated and lead to an assortment of health problems.

Adding an air purifier to a home or office will not only greatly reduce the amount of airborne particles that are breathed in; but also, increase the body’s defenses against physical and mental ailments. Owning an air purifier can significantly assist in the treatment and prevention of S.A.D.

There are also many office air purifiers to choose from that can raise the quality of the air in any home or office. Indoor air purifier reviews are offered to assist people who are shopping for the right air purification device for their home or office.

Exercise and Nutrition

Two extremely important keys to good health are a person’s diet and exercise habits. Depression can develop slowly and the symptoms can easily go unnoticed. It is advisable to make plans for the cold. Monitoring eating habits and swapping outdoor activities with indoor exercise can ensure a higher level of readiness for winter ailments.

Staying healthy in the winter is the best way to stay happy. Moods and attitudes can be greatly improved by recognition, treatment and prevention of this common ailment.

Article by Matthew Wainscott

Photo Credit by Shutterstock

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