Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people during the transition from fall to winter, usually in January and February. People may experience symptoms overlapping with major depression that can affect daily functioning. It’s thought these seasonal symptoms are caused by imbalances in circadian rhythms because of the decrease in sunlight we experience in the winter months.
People diagnosed with SAD may experience:
- needing more sleep than usual
- increased appetite for carbs that affect weight gain
- decrease in energy
- loss of interest in normal daily activities
- feeling restless
- feeling worthless
- difficulty with decision-making
- poor concentration
- in severe cases, thoughts of death or suicide
SAD, and depression in general, are treatable. Research shows that talk therapy, medication management, vitamin supplements, and light therapy can help reduce the severity of symptoms.
Talk therapy: seeing a mental health professional can helpful diagnose this disorder and identifying negative thought patterns or relationships that depression may be a reaction to.
Light therapy: “Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits a very bright light (and filters out harmful ultraviolet [UV] rays). It usually requires 20 minutes or more per day, typically first thing in the morning, during the winter months. Most people see some improvements from light therapy within one or two weeks of beginning treatment. To maintain the benefits and prevent relapse, treatment is usually continued through the winter. Because of the anticipated return of symptoms in late fall, some people may begin light therapy in early fall to prevent symptoms.” (psychiatry.org)
Vitamin supplements: increasing vitamin D intake improves some cases of SAD. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, so in winter months using the supplement may offset the hibernating instinct the winter months encourage.
Medication management: going to get a checkup with your doctor is always a good idea when you feel consistently depressed. Medical doctors can run tests to help identify what a physical or mental issue may be linked to. In some cases, a doctor may recommend taking antidepressants, which have been effective in treating depression.
At Rapha Center, we have a skilled team of specialists to address a wide range of seasonal issues. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above consistently, please consider calling Rapha Center at:
Outpatient Addiction and Recovery Community Mental Health 482 Interstate Drive, Suite D 1615 McMinnville Highway Manchester, TN 37355 Manchester, TN 37355 Hours: Mon-Fri 7:15am-5:00pm/Sat,Sun-Closed Hours: Mon-Fri 7:15am-5:00pm/Sat,Sun-Closed P| (931) 444-1000 P| (931) 450-8255