The days are shorter, and the skies are gloomier: Now is the time when some people feel SAD.
That’s S-A-D, as in seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression that often arrives with Old Man Winter. It’s believed to be tied to our body’s response to the amount of sunlight we experience and our circadian rhythms – the natural processes that occur within the body over the course of a day.
Those rhythms are driven by the hormones serotonin (which energizes us in the morning) and melatonin (which puts us to sleep at night). The production of both hormones is influenced by the amount of light we experience during the day.
“We all know that our circadian rhythms change this time of year,” says Dr. Jill Aiken, a pediatrician with Tidelands Health Pediatrics in Myrtle Beach. “For many people, that can lead to a case of the winter blues, but for some children and adults the symptoms are more severe.”