How the changing seasons can affect your mood

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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It's not just the cooler temperatures we have to deal with as we move deeper into the fall season. Some are plagued with depression related symptoms due to the changing seasons.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Beginning on September 22 at the fall equinox, we had a near equal amount of daylight and nighttime. As we move deeper in the fall season, we continue to lose more and more sunlight.

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By the time we hit December 21 at the winter solstice we will be down to a daylight minimum of 9 hours and 21 minutes. While it may be a smooth transition for some, others don't handle the seasonal changes quite as well.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is the name given to the condition of the negative effects of these seasonal changes. Due to the decrease in sunlight, the brains perception of time is distorted.

As a result, our circadian rhythm, or the the 24-hour mental cycle, is disrupted. This disruption can lead to an overall decrease in energy as well as oversleeping.

Additionally, the lack of sunlight will drop the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, memory, sleep and appetite.

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This drop in serotonin will lead to oversleeping, increased appetite, decreased energy, and depression.

Aside from prescribed medications, there is a light treatment therapy used to mimic sunlight in order to increase serotonin production and return the chemical to normal levels.

It's important to note that those diagnosed with bipolar disorder need to make sure to inform their doctor before undergoing any treatment or taking medications as they could result in a manic episode.