More Than The Winter Blues: Could You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

January 19, 2016  |  
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Shutterstock

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.

Boston snow blizzard, Svitlana Grygorenko / Shutterstock.com

Svitlana Grygorenko / Shutterstock.com

Shorter Days

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.

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Shutterstock

The Day-To-Day Struggle

Over time, SAD interferes with everyday functions and can make concentration very difficult.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

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.

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Overeating

People with SAD tend to crave sweets and starchy, carbohydrate-filled foods, which can lead to weight gain.

Corbis

Corbis

Isolation

Those affected by SAD are more likely to hibernate or withdraw during fall and winter months.

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Shutterstock

Low Energy

Feeling lethargic, having little to no energy and feeling tired are common SAD characteristics.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Oversleeping

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.

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Shutterstock

Low Libido

Like other forms of depression, SAD can result in a lack of interest in sex.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Physical Symptoms

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.

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Shutterstock

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.

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Shutterstock

I’m Not Worthy

Guilt, despair; feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness are not uncommon with SAD.

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