Do you ever feel unmotivated or lacking a certain drive around the same time each year? Ever been in a funk that seems otherwise unshakeable? Have you felt a feeling that’s more than summertime sadness or the winter blues? These may be signs of seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, or “SAD” for short, is a form of depression that affects many. This is also commonly known as seasonal depression. According to a synopsis of this disorder from the Mayo Clinic, most are affected by seasonal depression. This typically occurs during the fall and winter months. Symptoms may include low energy, having trouble sleeping, poor eating habits and being overall depressed during this time. Others may only experience these feelings during the summertime.
There can be several reasons as to why seasonal affective disorder can occur. A traumatic experience may have happened during the time in which one experiences seasonal depression. Or these feelings can coincide with the weather. The National Institution of Mental Health shares that according to research, people with seasonal affective disorder have an overproduction of melatonin, as well as low production of serotonin and vitamin D.
According to the Mayo Clinc, symptoms may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Seasonal depression affects approximately 10 million Americans and is also reported to be four times more prevalent in women than men, according to Psychology Today.
Solutions to alleviating the symptoms of S.A.D. include light exposure therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy.
Other treatments you can try include:
1. Sign up for a yoga or tai chi class.
2. Try meditation.
3. Sign up for an art or music therapy course.
4. Talk to your doctor about using a light therapy lightbox where you’re exposed to bright light first thing in the morning.
5. Get outside when the weather is nice and soak in that sun.
If your S.A.D. symptoms persist, call your doctor and schedule an appointment to fill her/him on what’s going on. There are prescribed medications that can help.
If you’re attending college, go to your school’s health clinic or schedule an appointment with your school’s mental health center. They’re there to help.
Pulling yourself out of a dark place can be challenging, but with the proper healing mechanisms and support system, things can change for the better.
To learn more about the symptoms of and treatment options for SAD, visit the Mayo Clinic website.
Amariyah, 18, is a freshman at Kennesaw State University.