Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that is associated with the changing of the seasons. SAD tends to affect people at the same time of the year, with symptoms appearing in the late fall and continuing through the winter months. Some people experience SAD in the spring or early summer, although this is less common.
Symptoms of SAD
In most cases of SAD, symptoms begin to appear during the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer. People receive less sunlight in the winter thanks to shorter days and less time spent outdoors. It is thought that this relative lack of sunlight leads to decreased serotonin levels in the brain, which brings about symptoms of depression. Some of the symptoms of SAD include:
• Feeling depressed almost every day
• Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
• Low energy
• Problems sleeping
• Feeling agitated
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feelings of worthlessness
Those who experience SAD during the winter might also oversleep, have a higher craving for carbohydrates than usual, and gain weight. Those who experience SAD during the summer months may have difficulty sleeping and feel agitated or anxious. They also tend to lose their appetite, which leads to weight loss.
SAD and Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of SAD often affect those who live with bipolar disorder. These people may also experience periods of mania during the summer and greater depression during the winter.
When to Seek Help
A lot of people feel tired and depressed during the winter months due to the shorter days and colder weather. However, if you feel depressed and listless more often than not, or if you have depression that gets noticeably worse in the winter, don’t hesitate to seek help. Many of the methods that are used to treat depression have proven to be effective in treating SAD. Some of these include medication, talk therapy, and light therapy that simulates exposure to sunlight.
While you may think it’s easy to tell yourself that SAD will pass with the seasons, that is not much comfort when your depression is at its worst. Always remember that there is help available to you, even if you think you only need it during the winter months.
To learn more about SAD and other health conditions, give us a call and schedule a telehealth or in-person visit with a health care provider.
Do you have more questions about treating SAD or other mental health concerns this winter in Salem Oregon? Contact our friendly staff at WFMC Health or become a new patient today!