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Seasonal Depression

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 22, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Seasonal Depression


The occurrence of feelings of depression, when coincides with the changes in seasons, is called seasonal depression. During such seasonal changes, some people may also experience increased cravings for sweet and carbohydrates. There may be thoughts of hopelessness, irritability on petty matters, frustration and increased anxiety for unknown reasons. A person may also get tired easily and frequently.

Most of the time such seasonal changes occur with the advent of winter when the length of days shortens and bright sunlight is less visible. With the start of shorter days mood swings occur and we may generally start feeling gloomy. This may hamper the basic functions of the body like digestion, sex drive, activity, body temperature and appetite. When this depression usually occurs in winter it is called, winter blues, hibernation reaction and cabin fever. A person may also gain considerable weight and may no longer feel to be socially active.


This ismainly caused by decreased activity of hypothalamus. Sunlight when enter eye and strikes retina helps in the functioning of an important gland, the hypothalamus. With the decreasing sunlight the hypothalamus activity decreases and thus mood swings and feelingsof depression occur. Also the bright light of sun affects the release and functioning of many chemicals in the brain. With decreasing bright light, this chemical activity is affected causing low feelings.

Due to changes in seasons and length of the day, the body clock known as circadian rhythm gets altered. This also sends confusing signals to brain and seasonal depression occur. People suffering from seasonal depression have also been diagnosed with low levels of serotonin and melatonin hormone that are responsible for carrying messages to brain and to induce sleep consecutively.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of seasonal depression are easily confused with other kinds of problems with same symptoms like hypothyroidism, viral infections and hypo glycaemia.

These symptoms include lower energy levels, depression, lack of appetite and considerable weight gain. There is a feeling of heaviness in arms and legs. There may be body aches, fatigue and even diarrhea or constipation. A person becomes more sensitive and there may be feeling of suicide and social withdrawal. Thereis increased feeling of anxiety and depression and also feelings to cry out loud.

Treatment Options

Symptoms of seasonal depression are confusing with other illnesses and also very common, so they are often overlooked and are not paid due attention. Other times, the physician may prescribeanti-depressant d r u g s like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil or Celexa. Though these provide short term relief but have multitude of side effects like increased weight, headache and lack of sleep.

Holistic Treatments

Holistic treatments including psychotherapy, counseling and natural and homeopathic treatment provide long term and safe relief from seasonal depression. Herbs like St. John’s Wort, Passiflora and Skullcap provide balance to brain and bring calming effect to the mood. They are effective and without any side effects. Calc carb and Alumina are homeopathic remedies to get relief from depression and mood swings.

Read also: Sea Sickness

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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