Have you ever noticed feeling down or moody during the winter months? If so, you're not alone. Many people experience changes in mood and energy levels during the winter, and for some, these changes can be debilitating. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and affects up to 5% of the population in the United States.
SAD is a type of depression that is triggered by the change in seasons, with most people experiencing symptoms during the fall and winter months. The exact causes of SAD are not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to changes in the amount of sunlight we are exposed to during the winter. Reduced exposure to sunlight can disrupt our circadian rhythms, which are responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycle, as well as our mood, appetite, and energy levels.
The symptoms of SAD can vary from person to person, but often include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as changes in appetite, weight, and sleep patterns. People with SAD may also experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. In severe cases, SAD can lead to social isolation, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts.
If you think you may be experiencing SAD, there are several treatments available that can help. Light therapy, where you expose yourself to bright light for a set period each day, has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of SAD. Antidepressant medications and talk therapy can also be effective treatments.
It's important to seek help if you're experiencing symptoms of SAD, as it can significantly impact your quality of life. Give us a call at Live Well Psychiatry.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Golden, R. N., Gaynes, B. N., Ekstrom, R. D., Hamer, R. M., Jacobsen, F. M., Suppes, T., ... & Nemeroff, C. B. (2005). The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(4), 656-662.
- Rosenthal, N. E. (2011). Winter blues: everything you need to know to beat seasonal affective disorder. Guilford Press.