Seasonal Affective Disorder

Happy or Sad?

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” We’re told to be happy and the ways we can show it throughout our childhoods. Many people are, if not happy all the time, mostly content with their lives. Some people endure depression. Others are happy during the spring, summer, and the early part of fall, but are depressed during the darker, colder winter months. Conversely, winter may be ok while spring and summer are the seasonal culprits.

For them, being SAD, or having seasonal affective disorder, is their annual reality.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short, is a cyclical kind of depression that appears during certain times of the year. For most sufferers, SAD appears during the late fall or early winter and lasts throughout it. Far less commonly, SAD is related to spring and summer, which is also called summer-pattern seasonal affective disorder. Far more than just feeling blue during the winter or summer blues, SAD is a disabling condition for those who experience it.

What Are the Symptoms of SAD?

People affected by seasonal affective disorder experience many of the same symptoms as those who experience other kinds of depression:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling sluggish or having low energy
  • Losing interest in the things you enjoy
  • Having a hard time concentrating

Winter SAD sufferers also experience:

  • A strong desire to sleep too much
  • Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
  • Withdrawing socially like a bear hibernating
  • Having little or no energy

While summer SAD sufferers might experience:

  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Agitation
  • Perhaps even violent outbursts

SAD is debilitating for those who suffer from it, often causing them to be very hard on themselves. They think they’re simply not able to function well when, in reality, they have a medical condition.

Help for SAD

Fortunately, seasonal affective disorder is a widely recognized kind of depression. There are various treatments available to allow sufferers to live a well-balanced life all year around. Those who think they’re experiencing SAD may benefit from:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Take vitamins, including vitamins B, C, and D
  • Exercise
  • Journal
  • Engage in a spiritual practice

If those tools aren’t enough to help you combat SAD, there are other options available. They include:

  • Light therapy
  • Talk therapy
  • Medication

Light therapy is a relatively new treatment for SAD. Using a blue light box, especially for about 30 minutes in the morning, can be very helpful in resetting your circadian rhythm as well as positively impacting both serotonin and melatonin levels.

Talk therapy is another viable treatment option as is medication. Some who experience SAD use a combination of light therapy, talk therapy, and medication to manage their symptoms.

Help if you Have SAD

Meisel NP Psychiatry in New York city (Park Slope, Brooklyn area) is available to help support you and determine a treatment plan during your sad time of the year. We also provide treatment in New York state, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  

We provide caring and nonjudgmental support to diagnose and treat whatever affects your life, and we are an LGBTQIA+ safe space. We will create an individualized care plan for you.  Contact us at 740-777-6184 or [email protected] so you can experience the joys of the season we’re in.

Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.

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