Fall depression characteristics

This article was endorsed by Néstor Zumaya Cárdenas - M.D & Medical Surgeon from the National Autonomous University of Mexico

What is fall depression?

Why do we get depressed in autumn?

autumn landscape
In autumn brush strokes of ocher and yellow colors appear in the Mediterranean forests

Fall and winter depression, also called autumnal depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal affective syndrome is characterized by a number of psychosomatic disorders that occur in individuals as autumn advances, It lasts for the first months winter and usually subsides when the fine weather goes back.

Characteristics of fall depression

  • Why is the need to eat a lot in autumn-winter?
  • Why don’t we feel like doing nothing when autumn comes?
  • What are the neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine?

How many people have fall depression?

Between 4 and 5% of the population is affected by this syndrome, although from 10 to 20% of patients do not have any kind of symptoms related to it. It is a problem that affects more women than men, especially those who are between 40 and 55 years.

This type of depression does not only affect adults since it has been observed that between 1.7 and 5% of the population over 9 years may be affected.

It is one of the common causes of absenteeism and a major cause of suicides.

Consequences of autumn depression

It constitutes one of the frequent causes of absenteeism from work and a major cause of suicide.

Fall depression usually lasts longer for people living in countries with less light, that is, those located further north or more north.

Differences between depression and autumnal depression

It is considered to be a seasonal depression when the disorders are not due to other external causes, such as the ingestion of medications or highly traumatic personal episodes, such as the deaths of close people, or internal, such as other types of personality disorders.

Differences between depression and autumnal depression

It is considered to be a seasonal depression when the disorders are not due to other external causes, such as the ingestion of medications or highly traumatic personal episodes, such as the deaths of close people, or internal, such as other types of personality disorders.

Symptoms of fall depression

Among the many symptoms that affect this type of depression we can mention the following:

  • Sadness
  • Lack of interest in things or complete disinterest in all things, little desire to implement activities.
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or need to sleep too much (hiperinsomnia)
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Irritability, moodiness, wish to be confined.
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Eating disorders: Need to be eating every hour (hyperfagia) or complete lack of appetite (anorexia). Weight gain or craving uncontrolled diets of strict dieting.
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide.

Causes of fall depression

Although no one knows exactly why this disorder occurs, it is believed that the main cause of fall depression are due to hormonal changes that the body experiences as a result of reduced sunlight which takes place with the change of seasons. Such changes might include the following:

  • Increased melatonin: The increase that occurs in the body of this hormone as a result of decreased light seems to be responsible for the lack of interest, or the the urgent need to sleep for many hours. Given that melatonin regulates body temperature, an increase of this hormone, besides causing drowsiness, decreases body temperature which leads to the need to eat more foods, especially high-caloric ones (high- fat food and high- carbohydrate foods) This seems to be the reason why many people feel a greater desire to eat sweet things during autumn-winter and it is also the main factor responsible for weight gain many people experience during these season.
  • Decreased serotonin: Increasing melatonin involves the reduction of serotonin. This hormone is important in regulating mood and sleep-wake cycle. Good levels of serotonin are necessary for the body to be balanced. Providing adequate serotonin calms our personal mood, increases happiness and help us sleep well.
  • Decreased Dopamine: Dopamine is another hormone that decreases with declining intensity of sunlight. The decrease of this hormone appears to be the most important cause of loss of attention, lack of concentration or lack of interest in things.

Treatment of fall depression

Any problems relating to depression should be treated by appropriate specialists. With the emergence of depressive symptoms there is a need for prompt medical attention to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Seasonal depression treatment consists of:

  • Use of antidepressants, with the intention of increasing the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin
  • The use of phototherapy
  • Contact with nature, or daily exposure to artificial light that replaces the lack of sunlight and solar stimulation
  • The use of psychotherapy.

punto rojo More information on depression

Editorial
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

13 July, 2020

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