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Family Guidance Blog

Seasonal Depression is Most Prevalent in Winter

Do You Have Symptoms of Seasonal Depression?

seasonal depressionIf what you feel most about winter is bleak, gray and feels somewhat hopeless, you may be among thousands of Americans with seasonal depression. In fact, for some people, seasonal depression is an annual reality. Seasonal depression doesn’t only strike in winter, but for those affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the dark months are the most common trigger.

Just what causes SAD remains unclear, though there are some theories on what leads to seasonal depression. One explanation suggests that the lack of bright sunlight may result in the brain’s reduced manufacture of the mood-affecting chemical serotonin. This wouldn’t explain why some people experience seasonal depression in spring or summer, yet the theory does match what’s been observed about the condition for winter SAD. For example, SAD more often affects people living in countries with a cold, dark winter season and does not show up as often in tropical, sunny climes.

A person with SAD may feel lethargic, hungry, unfocused and more desirous of solitude. They may gain weight as a result of increased appetite and less activity. Depending upon the severity, a person may find that their seasonal depression symptoms affect work or personal relationships in a negative way. The condition tends to affect more women than men.

Seasonal depression often begins just as a person enters adulthood and persists in a predictable manner according to season, year after year. The good news is that just because a person has been experiencing seasonal depression for a number of years, they don’t have to continue feeling deeply sad and live with these symptoms. Treatment is available and may include rising to get outdoors and expose yourself to the morning sun, bright lamps, antidepressant therapy and meeting with a mental health professional.

If you find that winter brings on a weight of sadness that affects your daily life, stop by and talk with us at Family Guidance Center. Winter doesn’t have to be a season lived with seasonal depression.

Do the Fall and Winter Months Leave You SAD? Tips for Confronting Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD 1As fall and winter months approach, the days become shorter and daylight diminishes. Meanwhile, colder weather and bad conditions dictate that individuals spend more time indoors. While this can cause anyone to go a little stir-crazy, some individuals experience a more serious condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is actually a form of depression, and people with the condition find themselves in a persistent sadness that coincides with the change in the seasons.

The signs of SAD are very similar to traditional depression except that with SAD, symptoms are mainly triggered during the more dismal fall and winter months. Affected individuals may experience a loss of interest in things once important, abrupt changes in mood, irritability, changes in appetite and sleep, and lack of focus. SAD may also lead to poor grades at school, diminished performance at work, and a desire to sequester oneself from others.

SAD can be draining, but there are things that can be done to help. Light therapy, a form of treatment where individuals are exposed to a type of light similar to the natural light of the sun, has been known to provide some relief. But perhaps the best line of defense is to be preemptive when it comes to confronting symptoms.

According to Dr. Devin Byrd of South University’s College of Health   Professions, it’s beneficial to be aware of one’s habits, anxiety levels and social involvement. Experts recommend partaking in regular exercise such as yoga or walking, getting sufficient sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and making time for leisure activities with family and friends.

Now that fall is here, if you or someone you know is experiencing an unexplained loss of energy or a feeling of perpetually being down, it may be time to talk to a professional about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Family Guidance Center has therapists trained in providing assistance with various forms of depression. To set up a screening or to get more information about SAD, contact Family Guidance Center.

Winter Blues Have You Feeling SAD?

SAD 1The dreary winter months are difficult for even the best of us to navigate. Cold temperatures, lack of sunlight, and time spent cooped up indoors can be a bit dismal. This time of year can also trigger in some what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that is brought on by the darkness of winter. It is believed that SAD is caused by melatonin or serotonin changes in the brain. Those with SAD may experience periods of feeling down, loss of joy, heightened anxiety, and a yearning to hibernate. Like most forms of depression, more women than men report symptoms of SAD, but as an EmpowHer article points out, the disorder can also affect men — and its effects are not limited to a particular age group.

Fortunately, most people have found that symptoms of SAD dissipate with the change of weather and increased sunlight exposure. Treating SAD is easiest if it is identified early. One method of treatment involves what is known as light therapy. Bright light is used to mimic the uplifting effects of the sun. Light enters the eye, sending a feel good signal to the brain’s pineal gland. Light therapy is most effective when administered daily throughout the affected period.

Sometimes SAD can be caused by low levels of Vitamin D. An imbalance is easy to rectify – a doctor can test to ensure that levels for the vitamin are where they should be. In addition, exercise can provide a natural boost of endorphins to help boost mood.

But, not everyone can just pick up and travel when the weather turns drab. Some may also experience symptoms that could indicate chronic depression or an anxiety disorder, such as prolonged lack of interest in activities, fatigue, muscle aches or uncontrollable worrying. The Family Guidance Center offers a team of experienced mental health professionals who can help you evaluate your symptoms with an assessment, and help you take next steps toward a return to well-being.