WHAT IT MEANS TO BE "SAD"
A bit of a fitting name, right? More than a case of just the ‘winter blues’, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is classified as a Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal patterns. Now what does all that mean? Well, some people’s depressive episodes don’t last year-round, but only during certain months or seasons out of the year. For most people with SAD, these range from the fall to winter months, with the brunt of the episode being from January-February. Just think about it--that’s almost 40% of the year!
Symptoms of SAD may include:
· Fatigue, despite increased amounts of sleep
· Weight gain due to over eating & craving carbs
· Feelings of sadness/depression
· Feelings of worthlessness/guilt
· Lack of motivation
· Thoughts of death/suicide
SAD is thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight hours in the winter months, which throws off our body’s circadian rhythm and makes us feel out of sync. It can also be attributed to drops in serotonin and melatonin levels.
Some good news though? SAD can be treated. Treatment is different for everyone and with that being said, if you think you are experiencing SAD you should contact a licensed mental health professional immediately (Telehealth options are available during this time as well!).
Treatment for SAD can look like:
· Light therapy (being exposed to an artificial light during the winter months)
· Increasing exposure to sunlight in the home/workplace
· Talk therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
· Taking antidepressants prescribed by your licensed mental health professional
· Intentional general self care (regular exercise, healthy eating, healthy sleeping habits)
With the last days of summer behind us, it means that most people with SAD should have been coming out of it over the course of spring and summer, but there has been a little bump in the way (ahem, Ms. Rona). With COVID-19 basically shutting the world down, this has been a very tough time for a lot of people. Anxieties are high, with constant negative news cycles going round the clock. So, I wanted to check in with my friends who may be coming out of a SAD episode right now: how are the current events of the world affecting your treatment? Are you able to accomplish any tasks that help you in your treatment? And this last question is for everyone: are you boarding yourself up in the house all day, or are you making sure you are getting your vitamin D and fresh air in?
Reflect on those questions and enjoy some of the resources I’ve linked below for you.
Fun online games from your childhood:
Get off your butt and take a walk: outside, around the kitchen table, just get up and move!