Seasonal Affective Disorder

Mental Health and Wellness
Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD , is a type of depression that typically occurs in the fall or winter months.  Surprisingly, it sometimes occurs during the spring or summer. It is defined as the reoccurrence of depressive symptoms on a seasonal basis for at least two years.

The symptoms of SAD are generally the same as those for  Major Depression and include: feeling depressed most of the day and nearly every day, lack of interest and enjoyment, low energy, sleep problems, changes in appetite or weight, fatigue or restlessness, difficulty concentrating, feeling worthless or guilty, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

With fall and winter SAD there are tendencies toward oversleeping, increased appetite, weight gain and tiredness, while spring and summer SAD tends more toward insomnia, poor appetite, weight loss and restlessness or anxiety.

The causes of SAD are uncertain but may be due to physiological changes within the body due to changes in available sunlight. Changes in the amount of available sunlight can affect your biological clock, serotonin levels and the body's level of melatonin. All three of these affect mood and sleep patterns.

Strategies to deal with SAD include:

  • See a doctor or mental health professional for an assessment and treatment.
  • If you already are being treated for depression or bipolar disorder speak with your doctor about adjusting your medication during your season of susceptibility.                            .
  • Do not sleep in - be awake during as much of the daylight hours as is practical.
  • Obtain full spectrum lighting, which mimics sunlight, for the home or office.
  • Spend time outdoors no matter what the season.
  • Eat healthy and watch your carbohydrates.
  • Get exercise and keep active.

All seasons have offer wonders to behold, be sure to get the most of them.