Depression is one of the most widespread mental health conditions in our country affecting children as well as adults. Depression is a debilitating illness no matter what form a person suffers from. This time of the year though, an awful lot of people begin experiencing what they refer to as the 'winter blues'. As the seasons change and winter begins, the days get colder and shorter and the nights get even colder and longer.
Many people start experiencing a form of depression during this time of the year called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and the symptoms can be extremely debilitating. The symptoms experienced with SAD often begin to appear in the late fall and build throughout the winter months. According to PubMed, people living in areas where winter nights are long, are at a higher risk for developing Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is no specific time in life when a person is most likely to develop SAD, it can begin during adulthood or even during adolescents. Even though both men and women suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, this form of depression occurs more often in women.
Episodes of Seasonal Affective Disorder can last as long as 4 months but this form of depression can possibly become long term depression for some people so it's important to take symptoms seriously. Sadly due to sadness and feelings of unhappiness, some people consume alcohol or use drugs because they're feeling so low and depressed. They don't realize that this is actually the worst thing they can do because drugs and alcohol just make depression symptoms worse.
Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder
The symptoms of SAD are often the same ones people experience with other forms of depression like feelings of hopelessness, irritability and unhappiness. Problems with sleep may be the opposite with SAD and people may want to sleep more as opposed to other forms of depression where sleep may be decreased. Other symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can include decreased energy levels and sluggish movements. Depression can affect a person's ability to concentrate and they lose interest in their work, socializing and other activities. With other forms of depression a person may lose weight but with SAD, weight gain can occur due to an increased appetite. Often time's people experiencing depression due to Seasonal Affective Disorder consume more junk food and eat less healthy.
Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated successfully in various ways which can include medications (antidepressants), talk therapy (counseling), and light therapy. In addition to the treatments listed above, there are things a person can do for themselves to help them feel better which includes getting the proper amount of sleep, eating healthy, find things to do that make you feel better, get more exercise, make sure medication is taken as directed by your physician, if light therapy is recommended by your health care provider follow their directions carefully.
If you're suffering with SAD or any other form of depression, I can't stress enough how important it is to avoid turning to alcohol or illegal drug use because these substances will only make your depression and life worse. Don't avoid seeking help from your physician or other medical provider about your depression because you're far from alone. Contact your health care provider today if you or someone you know is suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and find out what treatment will be right for you.