Conquering the Winter Blues: Your Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons—SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, draining your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Stats on Season Affective Disorder
- About 5% of adults in the U.S. experience SAD
- SAD typically lasts about 40 percent of the year
- 80% of people with seasonal depression are women
- The main age of onset of seasonal depression is between 20-30 years
- Typically, the further one is from the equator, the more at risk they are for seasonal depression
Signs and Symptoms of SAD
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly everyday
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
Treatment for SAD
Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Treatment for SAD may include:
- Light therapy (phototherapy)
Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year can also be helpful so that you are more balanced throughout the winter months.
Remember, it’s okay to seek assistance when SAD or any form of depression clouds your days. Don’t dismiss your feelings as mere “winter blues.” Reach out to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or a mental health professional if you find yourself grappling with persistent symptoms. By doing so, you can take control of your mental health, ensuring that you experience brighter days even when the seasons change.