Could your low winter moods be explained, in part, by your DNA?
Daylight hours and temperature are not the only things that drop as late summer turns to autumn and then winter; often our mood and energy levels do too.
However, for some, this annual change can be harder hitting and prompt detrimental changes to their appetite, weight, and sleep - a mental health condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The causes of SAD are unclear, but research suggests that a disrupted circadian rhythm, reduced serotonin activity and altered melatonin production all play a part.
It is likely that these three mechanisms are interlinked and that all are influenced by our DNA.
For example, disruption to the circadian clock system may cause melatonin production to be out of sync with the normal sleep/wake cycle, and as melatonin is also produced from serotonin, imbalances of one hormone may affect the other.
The FitnessGenes Seasonal Affective Disorder trait analyses combinations of genes linked to these mechanisms to predict your likelihood of suffering from SAD.
By analysing genetic variants that influence circadian rhythm and the brain circuits that use serotonin, all FitnessGenes members are placed into one of three possible trait classifications:
Average risk of SAD
Above average risk of SAD
Higher risk of sad
All three trait classifications include a collection of personalised lifestyle, nutrition and exercise-related actions to help our members reduce their risk of experiencing SAD during the winter months.
One popular action is to try to spend 15-30 minutes a day outside in the sun.
Sunlight exposure will naturally boost your serotonin and vitamin D levels, helping to keep energy levels high.
Download an example Seasonal Affective Disorder trait report to preview the insights and actions that you may receive.
*Not personalised - DNA analysis or DNA upload required.
For a full understanding of the symptoms of SAD and the genetic variants which can increase your risk of suffering from it, read the Seasonal Affective Disorder science blog.
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