Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Do you have the winter blues, or are you suffering from SAD?

It is very common to experience a mood shift in winter due to the darker days and colder nights. During the winter months, you may find yourself feeling more fatigued, down, and gloomy. Most of the time, the winter blues don’t affect your ability to get out and enjoy life.

However, if your winter blues start taking over, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. SAD is a recurrent type of depression associated with seasonal changes. If you are suffering from SAD, you’ll typically see a change beginning in the fall and persisting through the winter months, then subsiding during spring and summer.

How do you know if you’re suffering from SAD?  Here are some signs and symptoms of Winter Pattern SAD:

  1. Having low energy
  2. Hypersomnia (excessive tiredness)
  3. Overeating
  4. Weight Gain
  5. Craving for Carbohydrates
  6. Social withdrawal – you feel like hibernating

The causes of SAD are unknown, but research done by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found some biological clues:

  1. People with SAD may have trouble regulating one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood, serotonin.
  2. People with SAD may over produce the hormone melatonin.
  3. People with SAD may also produce less vitamin D.

If you think you have SAD, there are treatment therapies that can help reduce the depressed feelings and help keep you from some of the negative side effects. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, don’t ignore them–talk to your doctor right away. They can help find a treatment that works for you.

In the meantime, be sure to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes going to sleep on time, structured eating patterns, making (and keeping) plans with friends and families, and taking time for yourself!  Get some fresh air by going for a walk in the sunshine, which is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin D.  If the sun is hidden behind the clouds, consider buying yourself a light therapy lamp to keep at your desk at work or at home by your favorite chair.

In case you need a reminder this Monday, YOU are worth it, YOU are loved, and YOU matter!

To keep the body in good health is a duty. Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. — Buddha