What You Need To Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder

The sun is setting earlier, and the temperatures are dropping.  Is your mood dropping, too?  Do you usually feel worse during the winter?  It might not be something you want to ignore.  Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is a subtype of major depression that is associated with the colder months of the year.  Experts believe that this might be due to an increased lack of sunlight during the winter, although the exact cause is still unknown.  This would explain why people who live farther away from the equator are at an increased risk of dealing with SAD.  That could explain why only 1.4% of people living in Florida deal with it, but 9.9% of Alaskans suffer from it. The issue is even worse in other countries, where 20% of people suffer from SAD in Ireland.  Additionally, 75% of sufferers are women.  The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are very similar to those of depression, but the main difference is that SAD affects people during a specific time of year, whereas major depression is not season-specific.

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People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder have dealt with some of the following symptoms for the last 2 winters, and felt better as the weather got warmer:

  • Losing interest in activities
  • Eating/craving more carbs, and gaining weight
  • Sleeping more, but still feeling tired
  • Having trouble concentrating

Light therapy has been used to help people overcome seasonal affective disorder by exposing people to bright light that is usually lacking during the winter.  However, this approach isn’t for everyone, and is not FDA approved or regulated.  If you believe you might be dealing with SAD, talk to a professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist.  They will be able to recommend an approach that is best suited for you.

Like the seasons, this too shall pass.

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