Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. SAD can appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people can have the opposite symptomatology, which begin in spring or summer.
Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Factors which may come into play include a disruption in an individual’s biological clock, a decrease in serotonin levels, and a change in melatonin levels (which plays a role in sleep patterns/mood). Listed below are symptoms and coping skills for SAD.
- Symptoms to look for can include:
- Feeling depressed or low energy most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Sleep problems
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Feeling agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Coping skills to try:
- Opening curtains in the morning to let in sunshine
- Maintaining a daily routine
- Light Therapy – the bright light emitted from the device can help the body feel more awake
- Healthy diet
- Getting outside
- Meditating, practicing relaxation
If you notice a significant difference in your sleep, appetite, or mood during this time of the year, it may be time to contact your doctor/therapist.