What are the causes of seasonal affective disorder?
The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unclear, but scientists believe that the reduced exposure to sunlight is the main trigger. Reduced sunlight exposure can disrupt:
Serotonin production. Serotonin is an important chemical that regulates mood. When a person has a serotonin deficiency, they may experience symptoms of depression. Moreover, disrupted serotonin production can also negatively affect a person’s appetite, memory, sleep patterns, and sexual desire.
Melatonin production. When it’s dark, our brain secretes melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. In this case, the brain may produce more melatonin than usual, which leads to drowsiness and lack of energy.
Circadian rhythm. This is the body’s internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. It may be disrupted during the seasons of short days and long nights. As a result, the patient can experience disorientation, sleepiness, and other seasonal affective disorder symptoms.
What causes SAD in the summer?
Experts believe that summertime SAD can be attributed to longer days and shorter nights. With prolonged sunlight exposure or increased humidity, the patient may get too little sleep (instead of too much). In this case, sleep deprivation may trigger seasonal affective disorder symptoms.
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