“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” ~ Oprah
Everyone goes through difficult times, but as the days get shorter in the winter months, Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD) can rear its ugly head. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
How many people get SAD?
About 4 to 6 percent of people may have winter depression. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than age 20. Your chance of getting SAD goes down as you get older. SAD is also more common the farther north you go. For example, it’s seven times more common in Washington state than in Florida.
Symptoms of SAD?
Your symptoms are clues to the diagnosis. Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms, but common symptoms of winter depression include the following:
A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
- A drop in energy level
- A tendency to oversleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoidance of social situations—not wanting to go out
When to see a doctor
It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.
Treatment for SAD
Winter depression is probably caused by a lack of sunlight. So, light therapy is one way to treat winter depression. If you have SAD, your doctor may also want you to try a medicine or behavior therapy. If light therapy or medicine alone doesn’t work, your doctor may want you to use them together.
If you suffer from SAD disorder consider having a candid discussion with your physician about it so you can discover what treatments work the best. The staff at Rochester Medical Group are doing what we can to make health care a little easier for people and are always here to answer your questions. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.