Combating Seasonal Depression
What is Seasonal affective Disorder (SAD)?
If you notice a negative shift in your mood, motivation, or energy levels as the colder temperatures and shorter days roll around, you’re not the only one. Seasonal affective disorder is a common cause of depressive symptoms during the fall and winter months.
Most people with seasonal depressive disorder tend to experience difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, low energy levels, and overall feelings of irritability.
Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder typically comes about in early adulthood and tends to impact more women than men. If left untreated, the onset of seasonal depression can sometimes have negative implications such as social withdrawal, substance abuse, or issues at work or with relationships.
Why are we Affected?
While doctors and scientists do not know exactly what causes seasonal affective disorder, it’s believed to be partially related to a decrease in the amount of time spent outdoors or exposed to sunlight. This decease in exposure is thought to affect the chemicals in the brain causing a potential decrease in the amount of serotonin it produces.
Factors that tend to make SAD more likely or common are family history and residing in areas farther from the equator, or that tend to be colder and darker in the winter months. Some individuals find relief from using light therapy to mimic the affect of the sun, or by making an effort to get outside early in the day, if possible.
If you find yourself suffering from some of the previous symptoms of SAD, you don’t have to battle it alone. There are several different options to help treat and alleviate the negative impact of seasonal depression, including seeking counseling or work with a therapist. Mental health professionals have the knowledge and resources to help you treat the often debilitating impact of SAD.
Explore resources in your area to find out what options are available to you. There might be a group counseling setting with other individuals experiencing similar challenges that can offer you a supportive environment during this challenging time of year. Or, you may find that you gain more benefits from working one on one with a therapist.
Regardless of what setting you end up seeking, SAD is not something that you just have to deal with. While SAD is not uncommon, that doesn’t mean that you should just suffer through it alone. There are treatment options and counseling resources out there to help individuals suffering from this winter ailment.
Ready to take the first step?