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Does December Solstice make people SAD?

by Jericho Zafra

BEGINNING today, December 22, Filipinos will experience longer nights and shorter days because of the December solstice. It is the astronomical season of the year when the Sun’s path in the sky is farthest south in the northern hemisphere. 

However, the December solstice also causes emotional changes due to the shift in season. This is where the SAD part comes in.

According to a report from Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) is a form of depression associated with seasonal shifts. Some people experience the symptoms of SAD during the start of the December Solstice, and these last until the end of the season. The December Solstice usually ends in February.

If you belong to a large number of individuals who suffer from SAD, your symptoms will likely begin in the fall and continue throughout the winter, leaving you feeling lethargic and depressed, according to the Mayo Clinic.

These symptoms frequently vanish during the warmer months of spring and summer. But there have also been cases when SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer and resolves during the fall or winter months.

In the Philippines, which does not have four seasons, people with SAD may start feeling depressed during the rainy months, according to the Makati Medical Center.  But they may experience an improvement in their mood during the summer months when temperatures are higher, and there are more hours of sunshine, it said.

Some of the possible signs and symptoms of SAD are as follows: 

  • Experiencing feelings of lethargy, melancholy, or sadness throughout the early portion of the day, almost every day. 
  • Experiencing a decline in enthusiasm for past hobbies and interests. 
  • Having a lack of energy and experiencing lethargy. 
  • Having issues with sleeping for an extended period. 
  • Having cravings for carbohydrates, overeating, and gaining extra weight.
  • Having trouble concentrating on what you’re doing. 
  • Having a sense of helplessness, worthlessness, or remorse.
  • Having ideas in which you don’t want to continue living.

Other causes

According to the report, there is currently no clear understanding of what triggers the seasonal affective disorder. 

The following are some examples of potential influencing factors: 

The ticking of your biological clock (circadian rhythm)

The reduced sunlight may bring on SAD during the fall and winter months. This change in the amount of sunshine entering your eyes could throw off your body’s internal clock, resulting in feelings of sadness. 

Serotonin levels

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be caused by a lack of serotonin, a chemical (neurotransmitter) in the brain that regulates mood. A decrease in serotonin levels, which can be a precursor to depression, can be brought on by insufficient exposure to sunlight. 

Melatonin levels

Mayo Clinic suggested that the shift from summer to fall can throw off the natural balance of melatonin levels in the body, which is a hormone that affects both sleep and mood habits.

What to do when SAD attacks?

Potential treatments for SAD include light therapy, often known as phototherapy, psychotherapy, and medications (prescriptions may vary depending on the patient’s situation), the report said.



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