More Than The Winter Blues: Could You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?
You’ve heard of the winter blues. It’s a general term used to describe mild depression that’s induced by the change of seasons and is often linked to something specific and short term, like the stress of the holidays. But seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which begins in the fall and lasts throughout winter, is a much more severe type of depression characterized by a severe shift in mood that can impede daily function and last up to five months if left untreated. Know the symptoms so that you (or someone you love) can get the help you need, such as light therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, from a healthcare provider.
You don’t fare well with the shorter days and less sunlight that’s characteristic of the fall and winter seasons if you have SAD. Reduced sunlight can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, or internal clock.
The Day-To-Day Struggle
Over time, SAD interferes with everyday functions and can make concentration very difficult.
North Vs. South
Geographical location plays a role in SAD. People who live in the northern United States are more likely to have SAD than persons living in the South due to slightly shorter days in the winter.
People with SAD tend to crave sweets and starchy, carbohydrate-filled foods, which can lead to weight gain.
Those affected by SAD are more likely to hibernate or withdraw during fall and winter months.
Feeling lethargic, having little to no energy and feeling tired are common SAD characteristics.
To cope with the lack of sunlight, SAD sufferers tend to oversleep, which can affect their work or school life and other time-specific duties and functions.
Like other forms of depression, SAD can result in a lack of interest in sex.
SAD is both psychological and physical in nature. Some of the physical symptoms include dizziness, heart palpitations or a heavy feeling in the arms and legs.
Loss Of Interest
People who suffer from depression, in general, lose interest in hobbies or activities they once found enjoyable. The same can happen with seasonal affective disorder.
I’m Not Worthy
Guilt, despair; feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness are not uncommon with SAD.