As 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.