Disclaimer: To be clear, I’m not a doctor and I’m not trying to diagnose anyone. I just want to encourage folks to seek the help they need. One of my compassionate colleagues sent out a reminder about Seasonal Affective Disorder and it seemed perfectly timed. So BIG thanks to Danielle D’Addamio, PT, DPT!
As the nights continue to grow longer and the natural world around us prepares for winter hibernation, many of us may also feel like we’re slowing down. We may even feel a little bit down, like we’re already experiencing the “winter blues.” While it’s normal to have fluctuations in mood and energy in response to seasonal changes, some people may experience more severe symptoms starting in the late fall and lasting until the spring.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, effects more than 3 million people every year, and is more prevalent in northern climates like New England and Alaska. With SAD, Symptoms tend to come back and then improve at about the same times every year.
Johns Hopkins Medicine lists the most common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder as:
· Increased sleep and daytime drowsiness
· Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed
· Social withdrawal and increased sensitivity to rejection
· Irritability and anxiety
· Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
· Fatigue, or low energy level
· Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
· Trouble thinking clearly
· Increased appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates
· Physical problems, such as headaches
Sure it’s SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?
The symptoms of SAD can look like other mental health conditions, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis.
Like other forms of depression, SAD can become worse if untreated. Common treatments for SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, medication, and practices that improve the mind-body connection.
There is no clear cause of SAD. Less sunlight and shorter days are thought to be linked to a chemical change in the brain and may be part of the cause of seasonal affective disorder. It is thought that the change in season can disrupt the body’s level of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone.
Learn More about SAD
For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder, check out what these trusted sources say about it.
National Institute of Mental Health