We are entering the time of year you really dread. It starts after Daylight Savings Time when evenings get dark outside much earlier than you want. The days start to get more grey and less sunny. You tend to get a little bit moody and not as cheerful. It is Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD – aka the “Winter Blues”.
I know that I am not the only one who deals with it. You are not alone. The cold and dreary weather on Monday really brought out the blues especially when the snow started to show up. It is a time of the year that it really causes me to hate living in Chicago. I just want to crawl back into bed and take a long nap until April. Seriously!
According to Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Most people start experiencing it during the autumn months and slowly increasingly worse during the winter months. Some people have a similar depressive disorder starting in the spring months and into the summer. SAD is caused by a change in your biological clock aka circadian rhythm along with a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels from the lack of sunlight.
Here are some of the symptoms of SAD (according to Mayo Clinic):
- Loss of energy
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
It is important that you recognize the symptoms of SAD or any form of depression early in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. This is extremely important to see your doctor right away or call 9-1-1 if you have any thoughts of suicide or increase use of alcohol for relaxation or comfort.
There are several treatment options for SAD. Some people work well with just a light therapy using a special photo light box. It takes a couple of days for the full effect to kick in. If this option does not work, it is best to talk to your doctor about using either medication and/or counseling to help with dealing the symptoms of SAD. It is important to keep a diary your symptoms and when they occur so your doctor can help determine the best treatment for you.
You are not alone when dealing with this. There are other people who have dealt with it.