What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
SAD or seasonal affective disorder is a depressive disorder that most often occurs in fall and winter. However, It is not to be confused with the common “winter blues” just described. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue (regardless of the amount of sleep one gets) and weight gain associated with overeating, particularly high-carb treats and sweets. It is associated with higher levels of distress and interference with daily functioning than what most experience in the darker, colder months.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. With seasonal changes, people’s biological clocks or circadian rhythms can fall out of step with their daily schedules. Symptoms of SAD may require the help of a mental health practitioner.
Whether SAD or Just Blue, Take Action
You (or anyone) can benefit by being proactive and taking steps now to improve your health and wellness so that you’re better prepared to deal effectively with the challenges of fall and winter. Following are tips to give you a better chance of preventing the winter doldrums:
If your depression is severe or if you have suicidal thoughts, please consult a doctor immediately, seek help at the closest emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255).