Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of Americans each year. Six percent of people who live in the US suffer from acute SAD every year and a further 14% of people suffer mild SAD symptoms.
SAD usually affects people who live in more northerly areas of the country where winter weather conditions are more extreme: dark, cold – and, yes, depressing. Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms can be debilitating, but there are several treatments, including emotional support animal ownership, that can help to alleviate the suffering.
People tend to have lots of questions about Seasonal Affective Disorder… What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and what are its symptoms? What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder? What is the best treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder? Can you get an ESA for Seasonal Affective Disorder? How can an ESA help those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Read on to find out exactly how ESAs can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, often referred to as SAD, is a mental health condition that is related to changes in the seasons. It is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, usually coming into effect in the winter and lessening in summer.
SAD is a common mental health condition affecting millions of Americans. Its symptoms can have a seriously negative effect on a person’s ability to live life effectively and happily.
What Are The Most Common Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms?
The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder usually include:
- Chronic depression
- Persistent low mood
- Feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, and worthlessness
- An inability to feel pleasure or interest in normal living and everyday activities
- Weight gain and craving for carbs
- Oversleeping and finding it difficult to get up in the morning
- Feeling lethargic, low on energy, and tired during the day
- An inability to perform day-to-day activities
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The exact causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder are not yet completely known. The main external factor that brings about SAD seems to be the reduced exposure to sunlight that happens during the fall and winter months.
A lack of sunlight can prevent the hypothalamus, which is a region in the brain, from functioning optimally. The effects of a dysfunctional hypothalamus caused by a lack of sunlight can include:
- Lowered production of serotonin – the hormone that affects your mood, appetite, and ability to sleep. Lowered serotonin levels can result in feelings of depression.
- Overproduction of the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel tired.
- Disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock), which regulates when you feel tired and when you wake up.
It is speculated that there may also be a genetic factor to Seasonal Affective Disorder because the condition seems to run in families.
Who Can Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Anybody can suffer from SAD, although people who live in areas that have more distinct seasons, and most crucially cold and dark winters, tend to be more likely to develop the condition.
How Long Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Last?
As the name suggests, Seasonal Affective Disorder usually lasts for a particular season – i.e. the duration of time that the days are short and the amount of sunlight available is limited. However, there are several effective treatments for SAD – read on to find out more.
What Is The Best Treatment For Seasonal Affective Disorder?
There are several effective treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder, including:
- Emotional support animal ownership
- Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling
- Lifestyle measures, such as getting out into natural sunlight, exercising, meditation, traveling to sunnier climates, meeting friends and family, and joining social groups
- Light therapies, in which a lightbox lamp is used to mimic exposure to natural sunlight
- Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
How Can An ESA Help Those Suffering From Seasonal Affective Disorder?
An emotional support animal is a great way to alleviate the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. An emotional support pet will treat the symptoms of SAD by providing:
- Love and companionship
- Playfulness and fun
- A reason to go outside to exercise every day
- A focus outside of one’s self
- A reason to get out of bed in the mornings
- A sense of responsibility and purpose
Can You Get An ESA For Depression?
You can get an emotional support pet for many mental health conditions, not just for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The most common mental health conditions that people treat with emotional support animal ownership are:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Who Can Prescribe Treatment With An Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animals can be prescribed by various types of licensed health care professionals, including:
- Licensed counselors and therapists
- Clinical social workers
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician’s assistants
How Do I Get An ESA Letter For Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The quickest and easiest way to get an ESA letter for Seasonal Affective Disorder is to set up an online consultation with a mental health professional on Moosh. A state-licensed mental health professional will verify your Seasonal Affective Disorder and prescribe you an emotional support pet. You will be emailed an ESA letter instantly once you have been approved by the consulting mental health professional. It’s that quick and easy!