Fall is here – Look out for these signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Posted at Sep 24, 2021
  • Written by Rebecca
Fall is here – Look out for these signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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.

Are you wondering if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Here are the most common signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Fatigue – feeling more tired and lethargic than normal.
  • Depression – feeling sad for an extended period of time, and you can’t seem to snap out of it.
  • Lack of interest in activities that used to interest you.
  • Anxiety – having physical symptoms like a racing heart, dizziness, or panic attacks.
  • Restlessness – the feeling of needing to “get out” whether it be your home, town, or some people even feel like they want to crawl out of their own skin.
  • Irritability – having a temper in situations that didn’t previously upset you.
  • Problems Sleeping – tossing and turning at night, suffering from nightmares, or even sleeping too much.

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.

Treatments for SAD

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:

  • Light Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Medication
  • A combination of the above

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.

Getting Professional Help for Seasonal Affective Disorder

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!

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