With the changes in weather we have been experiencing lately, I thought this would be an opportune time to take a closer look at Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This disorder is also known by the names of seasonal depression, the winter blues and summer depression. SAD is a disorder that affects how people feel based on the changes of climate and weather during the shifting seasons. While SAD is not a standalone diagnosis, it is often connected with depression. Most people begin to feel the effects of SAD in the winter when we have less daylight and colder weather. With the changes in climate come changes in weather, if and when we venture outside, the different kinds of activities we participate in, the clothes we wear and even our sleeping patterns. Often, people become sad and reserved towards the winter months because it becomes darker and colder, forcing people to stay inside for long periods of time. If people do venture out, they need many layers of protective clothing and can’t stay out very long due to harsh conditions and lack of daylight to see by. The following are some warning signs that may point to SAD:
-Lack of energy
-Extreme difficulty waking up in the mornings
-Difficulty concentrating on and finishing tasks
-Mood changes based on seasons
-Sharp drop in energy when daylight fades
If you feel you are experiencing any of these issues and that they may be a result of SAD, there are things you can do to help yourself. The following are some examples:
-Counseling. Sometimes people need a little outside help to deal with their problems. If you choose to seek professional help, definitely give counseling a try as it will help you learn new ways to cope with SAD.
-Light Boxes. Because SAD is related to the amount of sunlight you are exposed to, sitting in front of a light box for an extended period of time to get your daily does of sunlight can help you through the day.
-Medication. Because SAD is associated with depression and bipolar disorder, it is sometimes necessary to take medication to alleviate your symptoms. Consult with your doctor about the possibility of taking a medication so that you know all the benefits and risks.