Seasonal depressions are a variant of recurrent (recurrent) depressions. By seasonal depression include that develop in the autumn-winter season with some regularity – every year for at least 3 years. Much less often, depression occurs in the spring and summer.
Seasonal depression can show the same symptoms as depression not associated with a specific season:
- depressed mood
- feeling of longing or anxiety
- decreased interest in the environment
- feelings of joylessness and hopelessness.
Often these symptoms are more pronounced in the first half of the day, while in the evening the condition improves.
There are also a number of season-specific features:
- Winter depression
- Spring depression
- Summer depression
- Autumn depression
Other symptoms are considered more specific for seasonal depression. Patients with seasonal depression, along with low mood, anxiety and decreased activity, experience drowsiness during the day and an increase in appetite. During depression, they consume more food rich in carbohydrates, gain weight. As a rule, the general tone decreases, weakness appears, various unpleasant sensations in the body.
Asthenic symptoms of seasonal depressions are as follows: a feeling of weakness, lethargy, weakness, general physical illness. Various pains and unpleasant sensations appear in the body, mental performance decreases, memory and attention deteriorate. It is characteristic that the severity of these symptoms practically does not depend on the external load and they are often more pronounced in the morning hours after waking up.
In the development of seasonal depression, the main role is assigned to the metabolic disorders of serotonin , a biologically active substance that regulates mood. Experimental studies have shown that in winter, the serotonin content in the brain is lower than in summer. An important regulator of serotonin metabolism is melatonin , an active substance, the production of which depends on the amount of light.
Light therapy is the classic treatment for seasonal depression . In addition, the high efficiency of antidepressants with a specific effect on the metabolism of serotonin in the brain has been proven . Long-term use of these drugs allows not only to cure an already developed depressive state, but also to prevent their development in the future. As with other depression, psychotherapy is an important element of effective treatment .