By Emily Joshu Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com
16:36 November 14, 2023, updated 16:48 November 14, 2023
- Seasonal Affective Disorder Expected to Peak This Week, New Report Says
- Low mood is the result of a sudden change in daylight and temperature.
- READ MORE: Seasonal Affective Disorder in Summer is MORE Deadly Than in Winter
Seasonal affective disorder, which affects nearly 13 million adults, is expected to peak this week, leading to fatigue, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
A study by mental health company Thriveworks suggests that those who suffer from this problem are more likely to seek help during the first two weeks of November.
This is thought to be due to a combination of the shock of reduced sunlight and a drop in temperature, as well as the physical consequences of darker days.
Last week, experts warned of a looming decline in the country’s mental health as clocks “went back”, making the days shorter.
It’s not clear what causes seasonal affective disorder, but experts believe it’s due to the impact of darkness on our circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock.
Studies have shown that being exposed to little daylight can cause a drop in mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin and disrupt the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep.
For the new study, Thriveworks analyzed Google Trends data for the search term “seasonal depression” over the past five years and found that searches peaked in the first half of November.
“According to our analysis, this year 2023, we can expect seasonal depression to reach its peak during the second full week of November,” the report said.
“This is the time of year when, historically, people start looking for more information on the topic.”
This year, the search term is expected to reach peak traffic this week and will “likely generate the most search interest” the company has seen in five years.
Laura Harris, a licensed clinical mental health counselor at Thriveworks, said knowing how the season affects an individual helps professionals make plans to avoid mood dips.
Searches start to increase from early October to mid-November, Thriveworks found.
This is the time when average temperatures drop more than 10 degrees in some cities like Idaho Falls, Idaho; Fargo, North Dakota; and Springfield, Massachusetts.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs when the seasons change. For most people, symptoms begin in the fall and continue into winter, as the skies darken earlier and the temperature drops.
However, SAD can also occur during the transition from spring to summer.
SAD generally coincides with Daylight Saving Time, which always begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November for the United States.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include feeling sad most days, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, low energy or sluggishness, sleeping too much, craving carbohydrates, overeating, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
At this time of year, you’re more likely to oversleep, have appetite changes, gain weight, or feel tired.
People with a family history of SAD are more likely to develop it, as well as those who live far from the equator, suffer from mental health disorders like depression and bipolar, or have a vitamin D deficiency.
If left untreated, SAD can lead to social withdrawal, problems with school or work performance, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
Kate Hanselman, a nurse practitioner at Thriveworks, suggested going to bed and waking up at the same time every day so your body can adjust to seasonal changes like lack of sunlight.
Limiting alcohol can also ease symptoms, as can getting outside at least once a day.