Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is related to the changes in the seasons. It typically begins and ends around the same time each year and is related to the amount of natural sunlight. Symptoms start in the fall, especially after Daylight Savings Time ends, and end in the Spring. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects over a half million people every year, and “Winter Blues”, a more mild form of SAD, affects even more.
It is believed that SAD may be an effect of the seasonal light variations in humans. As the light changes, our “biological clocks” shift in a manner that may be out of synch with our daily schedules.
A diagnosis of SAD can be made after experiencing three consecutive winters of the following symptoms if they are followed by a complete remission of symptoms in the spring and summer months:
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Social problems
- Feeling sleepy, lack of motivation
- Sleep problems
Treatments include light therapy, talk therapy, medications and supplements.
These steps can help you manage your Seasonal Affective Disorder:
- Stick to the plan developed with your mental health professional or doctor
- Take care of yourself by getting rest, exercising, and eating healthy
- Practice stress management. Learn techniques to manage your stress better by practicing meditation, yoga, talk therapy, or massage therapy.
- It’s easy to “hibernate” when the weather is cold and snowy but it’s also important to socialize with friends and family. Make an effort to connect with people you enjoy being around
- Take a trip. If possible, take a vacation during the winter to a sunny, warm location.
Remember, you don’t have to feel this way all winter. There are people and treatments that can help you feel better. If you can get control of your symptoms before they get worse, you may be able to heal off serious changes in mood, appetite, and energy levels. For more information visit www.csifdl.org