Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder

Do you notice a shift in emotions in the winter months? Do you feel an increase in feelings of depression as the time changes and the sun sets earlier? Maybe summer makes you anxious or irritable.  Adjusting to seasonal changes is typical, but what does it mean when the symptoms affect daily functioning?

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression linked to the seasons, beginning and ending with fall and winter (and sometimes spring and early summer).

Symptoms include:

o   Lack of interest in hobbies and activities

o   Persistent feelings of depression

o   Low energy, feelings of sluggishness, or difficulty concentrating

o   Restless and poor sleep

o   Feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless

o   Frequent and persistent thoughts of suicide or death

Some of these vary with the specific season. Weight gain, excessive sleep and low energy fall more in the winter months.  Warmer weather tends to include insomnia, weight loss, and increased anxiety.

While it is uncertain the exact cause of SAD, it is understood that environmental changes in the seasons may be the cause of emotional shifts. Decreased sunlight disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, along with serotonin and melatonin affecting the body’s ability to obtain restful sleep.

If you feel that the symptoms are affecting your daily functioning, it is important to visit with a doctor or mental health professional to explore proper diagnosis and treatment of SAD. Treatment can vary based on need and can include light therapy, medication, and talk therapy. Relaxation techniques can also play a part in daily functioning.

The counselors at DHH are trained in coping skills, stress management, and can provide additional resources as needed. Contact us today if you are interested in scheduling an appointment.


Michael Primeaux