During the winter months, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. And many parts of the country are bombarded with low temperatures and snowstorms. But if the additional darkness and cold are also a reflection of your general mood during this time of year, you could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
SAD is a form of depression that affects people at a certain time every year, usually the winter. In fact, it’s most prevalent in parts of the world that have the longest and darkest winters.
With onset usually in the teen or early adult years, symptoms begin in the fall as the weather changes and continue through the winter. It’s less common, but SAD could also occur during the spring and summer months. It has most of the same hallmarks as other forms of depression, like:
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Decreased energy and concentration
- Unhappiness and irritability
- Loss of interest in things that were once interesting
- Social withdrawal
However, SAD may differ from other forms of depression in that it’s marked by increased appetite, weight gain, and increased sleeping, while other types of depression usually bring about the opposite.
Like other forms of depression, SAD can also worsen and become a more serious disorder like bi-polar, so it’s important to seek treatment. The most common forms of treatment are talk therapy and medical intervention, along with lifestyle improvements like a eating healthy diet, getting consistent sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and exercising regularly.
Another popular treatment is light therapy, which involves the use of a very bright lamp for a period of time each day to get the mood-enhancing effects of sunlight.
If you believe you’re suffering from SAD, use the Vitals Doctor Finder (www.vitals.com) to find a trusted psychiatrist near you.
Sources: nih.go and mayoclinic.com