Seasonal Affective Disorder

The blahs, the blues, the doldrums. To some, it's not that easy to snap out of a winter funk. 

If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression – usually in late fall and winter – alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year. (National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI)

Most people with SAD are women whose illness typically begins in their twenties.

Symptoms

Characteristics of recurrent winter depression include: oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving, weight gain (not all patients show these symptoms).

Additionally, usual symptoms of depression can occur – decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, social withdrawal.

Treatment

Light therapy is now considered a first-line treatment intervention and can provide relief in days.

Antidepressants may also help and can be used in conjunction with light.

What should I do?

Mild – if symptoms don’t interfere too much with daily living, you may want to try light therapy.

Severe – if symptoms significantly impact your daily living, consult a mental health professional qualified to treat SAD.

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

To find out if SAD affects you and to learn about all the treatment options available, please call 920 433-6073 to schedule an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist.