With the ending of daylight savings time, many people don’t see nearly as much daylight as they used to, especially if they work a regular 9-5 work day. The sky starts getting dark around 5, and with that, people’s moods generally worsen. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a category of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in the fall and increasing during the winter months, but a few people experience a spring/summer version.
Symptoms of SAD are the same as symptoms of major depression, they just coincide with specific seasons (winter or summer).
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleep
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
Additional symptoms associated with the Winter Pattern of SAD include:
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
Symptoms of the less frequently occurring summer seasonal affective disorder include:
- Poor appetite with associated weight loss
- Episodes of violent behavior
Luckily, there are ways that can help someone cope with SAD. Treatments can include medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, or increased vitamin D intake.
- Soaking up morning sunshine
- Maintaining your routine
- Eating healthier and ditching sugar
- Getting fresh air
- Develop wintertime hobbies (skiing, ice skating, new fitness classes, etc.)
- Book a trip – taking a break from winter weather and work is important for anyone’s mental health