Winter can be a hard season to get through. Decreased sunlight and unpredictable weather can make it difficult to spend time outdoors or find fun activities away from home, which can cause people to experience seasonal depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Each year, about 5 percent of Americans experience seasonal depression, according to Mental Health America. Of those who suffer from seasonal depression, 4 out of 5 are women.
WebMD defines seasonal depression as “a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time.” A rare form of seasonal depression, known as ‘summer depression,’ begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall. In general, though, seasonal affective disorder starts in fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer.
Scientists do not know exactly what causes SAD, but they believe certain hormones trigger attitude-related changes during certain times of the year. WebMD said, “One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood.”
Identifying and overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are a number of symptoms associated with SAD, which differ somewhat from signs of major depression. According to The National Institute of Mental Health symptoms of SAD include:
• Having low energy
• Weight gain
• Craving for carbohydrates
• Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
There are a number of ways to treat SAD, including combinations of antidepressant medication, light therapy, supplemental Vitamin D, and counseling. Self-care is equally important. Psychology Today suggests that people monitor mood and energy levels, take advantage of available sunlight, plan physical activities and seek help when symptoms arise.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder like depression or loneliness, contact a treatment facility for help. The Havenwood Adult Inpatient Psychiatric Program provides treatment for individuals ages 18 and over experiencing severe psychiatric symptoms that inhibit normal daily living activities and pose a threat of harm to self or others, such as severe depression, severe anxiety, suicidal thoughts, schizophrenia, and/or severe mood swings.
To learn more about the breadth of services offered at Havenwood Behavioral Health, visit havenwoodbehavioral.com or call us at (864) 660-6220. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome mental illness.