GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With lower-than-average sun these past two months in West Michigan, some may experience seasonal affective disorder.
SAD is a type of depression tied to changes in seasons, decreased sun exposure and colder temperatures.
Dr. Anthony Bonita, a rehabilitation psychologist at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, said it’s common to experience seasonal changes in our mood. Some people may feel more lethargic, irritable, or even depressed.
“The disorder itself is a number of symptoms, which really impair their life,” he said. “Someone might be sleeping way more than they normally do… You start to see it really limiting their options.”
In Michigan, about 3 to 6 percent of people have SAD. Bonita added that Michigan is in the top 10 states for cloud cover and the lack of sun exposure can impact sleep cycles.
“It is thought that the exposure to light is part of what might be affecting what is called our circadian rhythms,” Bonita said. “Our ability to get energized during the day and our ability to get ready for bed when it’s dark out.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, some other factors that may contribute to SAD are a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels.
To combat SAD symptoms, doctors recommend you continue to move your body, ideally outside, and sit in front of light boxes when you first wake up in the morning. Bonita said you might also want to get a blood panel.
“Some people have a low amount of vitamin D in their body. Vitamin D is a hormone that is produced by exposing ourselves to the sun. If you’re indoors or if it’s cloudy, you may have a low level of vitamin D,” he said.
Doctors also recommend you check your thyroid.