As the weather gets colder, you may find your mood changing along with the leaves. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about 5% of the population and can last up to 40% of the year. What is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD? SAD is a marked decline in mental health in the colder months. It goes way beyond feelings of not liking the winter and is characterized by an increase in anxiety and/or depression. SAD is more prominent in colder climates where there is less sunlight. However, it can affect anyone, in any location. It is a diagnosable mood disorder that can be treated.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms to look out for:
As with many associated disorders such as anxiety and depression, these feelings can be fleeting. If they are intermittent, constant, or becoming more frequent, chances are that you may be experiencing SAD. It also is important to note if you are experiencing an increase of symptoms of an already diagnosed mood disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, your symptoms may increase during the colder months.
Just like anxiety isn’t “just being nervous” and depression isn’t something you can just cheer up about, SAD is a real disorder that is diagnosable and treatable.
Some common treatments for SAD include:
Wondering “What can I do to help my SAD?” Luckily, SAD is a treatable condition that can be fixed with any or all of the treatments above. The first thing to do is make an appointment with either your primary care physician, your therapist, or your psychiatrist. They can help to determine the best course of action for your symptoms.
Once you have seen your doctor, there are things you can do to help lighten the symptoms in addition to the treatments your doctor(s) suggested. Making sure you are treating yourself with love is first and foremost. This includes eating well, getting enough exercise, and limiting negative self-talk. Make an event of putting together a healthy grocery list and going shopping – or getting your food delivered – and start cooking! Having hobbies to engage your mind is a great way to limit SAD.
If you are concerned about the weather affecting your ability to exercise, try getting out into the sunlight as much as possible during the day. If you have to stay inside for work, or family, find alternative ways to exercise. There are many accessible workout programs online that don’t even require a subscription.
If you find yourself dealing with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, help is available. There is no need to suffer through the winter. You can get your life and your feelings back on track with the help of a professional!
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.