Seasonal Affective Disorder

Today is Labor Day, 2018. The unofficial end of summer. Personally, I don’t mind saying goodbye to this season at all. Ever since I developed relapsing-remitting MS, summer has become my least favorite season of the entire year. I truly abhor how all of my MS symptoms are worsened by hot, humid weather. Not only am I uncomfortable, I am absolutely unsafe.

Experiencing numbness throughout my legs makes me a tremendous fall risk. Now that I have been blessed with hot flashes, there are absolutely no words to describe how much I hate hot weather!

However, I can’t tell you how much I absolutely adore autumn! I love the much cooler weather, as well as the brilliant displays of colors as the leaves change. If I had my way, the weather would be like that typically found in mid-October, all year round.

Once daily savings time requires that we turn our clocks back, things start to shift for me, emotionally-speaking. I find myself feeling much more susceptible to increased symptoms of depression.

My overall energy level decreases. It’s as though my body wants to enter hibernation, so to speak. I especially struggle to get out of bed in tge morning. I notice that my overall appetite increases, especially for carbohydrates.

This makes sense, since this food category serves as the building blocks for serotonin synthesis. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that regulates our mood and emotional well-being. Of course, not everyone is sensitive to this seasonal change in exposure to sunlight.

My long-term history of depression appears to have increased my personal vulnerability to developing seasonal affective disorder. Many years ago, a psychiatrist once suggested light box therapy as an option for treating my increased depression as the days shorten. I never did happen to follow through with this suggestion, for several reasons.

Now, I fully embrace this time of year. I know that none of my MS symptoms will be worsened by the onset of cold, wintry weather. I actually like snow. Yes, I really wrote those words. I no longer downhill ski, as I used to do on a weekly basis.

I especially adore the pristine appearance of the first snowfall. It’s important to remember that the changing seasons may bring unique challenges for those who are living with chronic illness.

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