Something about this week has made so many of us want to curl up in our beds and stay there. The gray skies, the pouring rain, the freezing temperatures - all of it makes some of us feel - well, blah. 

This, of course, comes with the territory when dark and dreary weather arrives in New York State. But for some reason, this week, it seems to have hit us harder than most. Even those of us who usually have heaps of energy have just wanted to curl up in a ball and take a nap. What gives?

You could be starting to experience symptoms of something that affects thousands of New York State residents this time of year - seasonal affective disorder.

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What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Commonly abbreviated as SAD (ironic, we know), seasonal affective disorder is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons.”

Basically, day after day of gray skies and rainy, cold weather can wreak havoc on our brains and bodies in ways that make us feel like garbage. 

Allow us to explain.

Sun & Vitamin D
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Here’s Why Lack Of Sun Can Cause Our Bad Moods

When it comes to mood regulation, the sun is our friend. Sunlight works to produce vitamin D in our system, which is essential in producing serotonin (the chemical in our brain that affects our mood and happiness levels).

When we go through a prolonged period of a lack of sunlight, the amount of vitamin D in our bodies can drop, along with our serotonin levels.

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To simplify: 

Low amounts of sunlight = Low vitamin D Levels = Low serotonin levels = Feeling BUMMED out. 

Additionally, the reduced sunlight we experience in New York this time of year can disrupt out biological clock, making it even harder than usual to wake up in the morning. (That could explain why so many of us have wanted to take a nap in the middle of the day this week.)

However, seasonal affective disorder can also bring about more severe symptoms

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Other Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Besides just feeling increasingly tired and sleepy, SAD can disrupt our lives in many other dangerous ways, such as:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Feeling anxious and irritable
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Loss of ability to focus

SAD is more than just the “winter blues.” If left untreated, these symptoms could lead to detrimental consequences, so you need to take them seriously. 

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How To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

First and foremost, if you think you’re experiencing any symptoms of SAD, you need to talk to your doctor ASAP. They may recommend treatments such as:

  • Light exposure therapy
  • Increased physical activity
  • Medication

Fall and winter can be (and should be!) an amazing time in New York State, but if these past few gray days have been starting to put a tremendous strain on your life, take your symptoms seriously and schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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