Many people are faced with the so-called winter depression, namely with
seasonal affective disorder
. The main feature of this condition is that it occurs annually at the same time. In fairness, it is worth saying that there is also summer depression, but this is a rarer occurrence.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown, but various hypotheses are put forward. The main one is the phase shift of the circadian rhythm (phase-shift hypothesis).
Every morning, sunlight signals us that it is time to wake up. This daily ritual is responsible for setting up our biological clock, which is located in front of the hypothalamus. In winter, when it dawns later, circadian rhythms naturally change and also shift "later." And here the problems begin: such a displacement conflicts with the real cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Indeed, many are forced to get up at the same time all year round.
As a result, we wake up before dawn and our body does not receive a portion of sunlight at the right time in order to correctly "calibrate" circadian rhythms.
In winter, due to lack of sunlight, the overall level of illumination decreases. And the production of melatonin - a hormone that synchronizes the work of our body with sunlight - is directly dependent on this factor. As a result, the secretion of melatonin in winter increases and we constantly want to sleep.
Another cause of depression may be serotonin - a chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood.
Decreased sunlight often causes a decrease in serotonin levels.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Improvement (NICE) of the United Kingdom
to treat seasonal depression in the same way as others types of depression. Treatment includes psychotherapeutic assistance (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and medication (antidepressants). Light therapy is also a popular treatment option, however, NICE reports that its effectiveness is still highly questionable.
If your well-being worsens, you experience problems at work or in school due to depression, the quality of life decreases significantly, you are not able to deal with your usual chores, do not suffer and do not blame yourself - turn to a specialist for help.