When we approach months such as October, November, and December we think of cold weather, an extra hour of sleep and of course the HOLIDAYS!! What we tend to not think about is our emotions and thoughts. Often we may appear to become more tired, emotional and sometimes increase isolation from others. While it can be blamed on the time change, it could also be seasonal depression also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? According to the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Don’t short change your emotions during this time as it can lead to longer term affects such as major depression disorder.
What are symptoms of SAD? Since SAD is a subtype of Major Depression Disorder, it often has the same symptoms. I will list a few:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleeping
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Here are some Fall/Winter SAD symptoms:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
When should I be concerned about SAD?
It is normal to experience these symptoms as it is a part of life so don’t feel the need to run to the doctor is you have a few of these symptoms just yet. However, if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.