Autumn blues and depression: how to distinguish one from the other

Short daylight hours, cold and rains - often in the autumn you want to sleep more and eat more (carbohydrates, of course). But it’s important to understand that seasonal melancholy and depressive disorder are not at all the same thing. Now we will tell how they differ.

Autumn spleen is a consequence of the natural displacement of biorhythms. We have already told you what circadian rhythms are and what are the consequences of their violation.

In a nutshell: circadian rhythms are a biological clock that is “embedded” in the body. When a person sees that it is getting dark outside, the pineal gland (the endocrine gland, which is located in the center of the brain) increases the production of melatonin, and the person immediately begins to want to sleep. In the morning, the opposite is true: bright light blocks the production of melatonin and stimulates the production of serotonin - the hormone that is responsible for a good mood.

In autumn and winter, this harmonious system malfunctions. For example, in Moscow, daylight at the end of December lasts only seven hours.

This means that most Muscovites get up long before dawn, return home already in the dark and during the day almost do not see the sun. Of course, the body is trying to correct the situation, but it does not work right away. The balance of the hormones of sleep and wakefulness is disturbed: melatonin is produced almost at the very height of the working day. Hence laziness, drowsiness and apathy.

Autumn blues and depression: how to distinguish one from the other

Photo: shutterstock.


Despite the fact that autumn sadness is a normal phenomenon, such a reaction to the changing seasons suggests that some changes in the way of life need to be made. Here are some tips to help you adjust your routine and bring your mood back to normal.



prove that sunlight contributes to the production of serotonin. Walking will cheer you up, and your body will understand that it is time to wake up.

Make a little effort on yourself and continue to meet friends, go on dates and parties.

So, in Sweden, where in winter the length of the day is also no more than 6.5 hours, there are fredagsmys - the tradition of “cozy Fridays”. At this time, you can get together with friends, get snacks, pour yourself cocoa or sip (if the week turned out to be especially difficult).

Autumn blues and depression: how to distinguish one from the other

Photo: shutterstock. com

There is no slight melancholy nothing criminal until she begins to affect the ability to enjoy life in general.

If sadness and longing do not leave for a minute, you may have

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


In the Tenth Revision International Classification of Diseases

, this disorder is one of the types of recurrent depressive disorder (characterized by the recurrence of clinical manifestations).But despite the diagnosis, "seasonal affective disorder" is often used to explain the natural displacement of biorhythms. And this is wrong.

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder that you need to pay attention to:

  • too long sleep;
  • lack of positive reactions at a certain time of the year;
  • anxiety;
  • fatigue and decreased physical activity;
  • overeating;
  • distraction;
  • sense of hopelessness.

In addition, the following criteria should be considered by a physician or psychiatrist to make a diagnosis:

  • the frequency of depressive episodes (a depressive state appears at the same time of the year, begins and ends at about the same months);
  • these cycles are observed for two or more years.

Autumn blues and depression: how to distinguish one from the other

Photo: shutterstock. com

Although scientists have not yet come to the conclusion that what causes seasonal affective disorder, there are several theories on this subject:

  • violation of circadian rhythms;
  • violation of the production of some neurotransmitters - serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine;
  • adverse external factors, such as high stress levels.

Here are a few recommendations to help eliminate these disorders and reduce depression.

As in the case of the autumn blues, bright light - It is a fast and effective treatment for seasonal depression.

In addition, you can buy a special device - lightbox. This is a lamp that simulates the sun's rays and natural light. Daily use of such a lamp will help restore the balance of chemicals in the brain.

When seasonal depression occurs, it is better to consult a specialist in cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy will help focus on your own reactions and ease the subjective experience of symptoms.

After diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants, usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This type of antidepressant helps increase serotonin levels in the body. Here you need to understand that antidepressants will not start working instantly: in order for the substance to accumulate in the body, you need to drink tablets from ten days to one month. Therefore, it is better to start taking pills before the onset of symptoms.

Moderate physical activity, a balanced diet and an active lifestyle play an important role in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder.

- Seasonal affective disorder is not a hopeless disease that you must fight one on one. If you find yourself with several symptoms, consult a specialist and do not self-medicate.

Autumn blues and depression: how to distinguish one from the other

Photo: shutterstock. com



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