What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the changes in seasons. Often, symptoms start in the Fall and are most present this time of year during the Winter months. Most people report experiencing symptoms such as lower energy and feeling somewhat moody, often referred to as the “winter blues” or a “seasonal funk”. These symptoms usually start to dissipate in the Spring and Summer, though some people do report continuing to experience these symptoms or other related symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of SAD?
- Feeling listless, sad, or depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Losing interest in activities you once loved
- Major changes in energy level
- Major changes in sleep
- Major changes in appetite or weight
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
What do specific symptoms in the Fall and Winter look like?
- Sleeping far more than usual
- Appetite changes, especially craving foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Low energy or tiredness
What do specific symptoms in the Spring and Summer look like?
- Sleeping far less than usual, or experiencing insomnia
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation and increased irritability
- Anxiety and restlessness
What people are generally more vulnerable to going through this?
- Females (four-times more likely than in men)
- Those living far north or south of the equator
- Those with a family history
- Those having depression or bipolar disorder
- Young people (even reported in children and teens)
What causes SAD?
The causes are unknown, however it can happen when the brain has a more difficult time regulating one of the key neurotransmitters controlling mood. It might be that people experiencing SAD are overproducing the hormone melatonin or producing less Vitamin D. Either way it seems to be a brain chemical imbalance.
When should I seek support?
It’s normal to experience these signs and symptoms occasionally. We all experience some days where we simply just feel “down” or “off”. However, if you are noticing that you can’t seem to shake the winter blues or snap out of a seasonal funk, then it’s time to reach out for support. Jefferson Center is here for you this season, and every season. Our clinicians have experience working with people going through this and can help. Call us at 720-826-4190 to learn more about our services, programs, and resources.
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