HYDERABAD: Vitamin D is fast being acknowledged as one of the most vital supplements needed for human well-being. One of the many fall-outs of vitamin D is a syndrome called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or SAD. According to studies, SAD occurs four times more in women than in men, establishing that insufficient levels of vitamin D affect women more.
The age of the onset of SAD is estimated to be between 18 and 30 years of age.
Studies have also found that SAD is more evident during the winter months as there is less of sunlight. The situation is worsened when women keep themselves confined within homes and are not willing to move out during early noon or evening when the body can absorb more sunlight.
Dr P. Swaroop, senior psychiatrist explains, “Sunlight plays a crucial role in decreased serotonin activity and leads to disrupted circadian rhythms which are some of the reasons for SAD. The best way to identify is the cyclic role that it plays. We often tell our patients that if there have been two consecutive winters where one has suffered from depression then they must opt for therapy.”
“Having an episode of depression during the same time of the year is an indication that it is due to the weather and also because the body is not getting enough vitamin D,” he added.
Experts state that the body’s metabolism and hormones react to the changing seasons which have a direct effect on moods and behaviour.
Dr P. K. Chowdhary says, “The climatic conditions make them feel low and lethargic during the season. This cycle is seen in these people even during the monsoon months when there is a cloud cover for more than three to four days. The symptoms are evident again. Even those who have suffered from severe trauma are found to suffer from depressive episodes during season change.”
Often women tend to remain confined to home and have an increased need for sleep and carbohydrates which eventually leads to weight gain.
In working women, SAD adds to work pressure as there is cognitive decline which affects their work efficiency.
The symptoms are of feeling low, a tendency to overeat, nausea, difficulty in waking up in the morning and difficulty in concentrating on tasks.
There is also withdrawal from social situations, feeling of helplessness or hopelessness and lack of pleasure in daily activities.
Doctors are now using therapies like light exposure, sun therapy. Drugs though are prescribed only when needed.