Do you ever feel that when you’re at the peak of your potential, up for all the challenges of life, but winter arrives and brings with itself a dark cloud of depression?
Winter, often associated with depression, is a time when almost everyone feels lazier than usual. The woes of being unproductive keep echoing in your mind, making you look down upon yourself.
But don’t be too hard on yourself, Science has an explanation for your behavior.
According to psychiatrists, this is the effect of seasons on the brains of people who have genetic predisposition for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
While one may think it has something to do with the temperature, other environmental factors including light and surroundings of a person play an important role in triggering the SAD.
Most of it will be within the realms of normality but some of the people might be suffering from the SAD.
In Kashmir, a place that has well-defined and differentiated seasons, the SAD in winters includes symptoms much like that of clinical depression: changes in appetite, weight gain, lethargy and oversleeping. In summer, however, weight loss, decreased appetite, anxiety and insomnia may be experienced.
These may be usual experiences for many but if the hopelessness, guilt and lack of motivation last for days at a stretch, you might want to visit a doctor who can help you cure the curable illness.
Talking about the disorder, valley’s renounced psychiatrist Dr. Arshad Hussain told Free Press Kashmir that in the fall season, some people start experiencing the symptoms of SAD that he said, can be treated with Light Therapy, exercise, diet change and sometimes medication.
“It’s a well-recognised illness, particularly in the areas where there are well defined seasons. There are various factors involved, among them light is the most studied factor. There are people who are predisposed to these illnesses. Loss of energy, lack of interest, mood swings are the usual effects of it,” said Dr. Arshad adding that among the people who suffer from depression in Kashmir, there is a good proportion of patients who have SAD.
Explaining as to why the majority of people in Kashmir share such symptoms, he said, “The environment in Kashmir was such that our predecessors would be functional optimally only in spring and summers and would spend most of the winters indoors. It has to do with the evolutionary biology wherein we have maintained some of the behaviours for that evolutionary period.”
Environment is the single largest factor that effects the brain functioning, says Dr Arshad who is part of the team of doctors that is conducting a research in collaboration with the department of Neurobiochemistry at All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS), trying to find out the relation of the seasonal mood disorder with genetics and levels of Vitamin D present in a human body.
“The sunlight in winters is less and in places like Kashmir, the Vitamin D that is present in it is at the marginal levels. During winter, the Vitamin D levels go further down. So, we are trying to see the connection,” says Dr Arshad affirming that there are higher chances of light having more to do with the disorder.