Seasonal Affective Disorder – aka SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that generally strikes during the winter months and is more common in the Northern climates where the weather is bleak and cold and the days of bright sunlight are limited. While it is common for people to have “sad” or “down” days every now and then, if these feelings don’t improve quickly you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Some of the more common symptoms (feelings) of Seasonal Affective Disorder are as follows:

  • A general feeling of depression
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • A sense of unhappiness and a loss of interest in things that used to bring pleasure
  • Change in sleeping habits – usually excessive sleep
  • Change in appetite sometimes with weight gain

Here are some ideas that may help for milder cases of SAD

  • Expose yourself to sunlight whenever you can or consider phototherapy which
    provides exposure to light

  • Focus on healthy nutrition – You wouldn’t put water in your gas tank so don’t try
    to run your body on sugar and empty carbohydrates.

  • Get adequate rest but don’t allow excessive sleeping
  • Increase your activity level – take a walk outside even if it’s cold and especially if it
    is sunny

  • Discuss a melatonin supplement with your physician. This is available over the
    counter at your local pharmacy

Remember that a sad or down day occasionally is normal but if it lasts for several days and you can’t seem to shake it or feel better on your own consider contacting a behavioral medicine specialist or your primary care physician. There is help available – you do not need to suffer.