Are you worn-out, irritable or lacking energy? Do you just want to eat and sleep? Winter is the season for an especially disabling form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The cold, dark days of winter can bring depressive moods for a lot of people, mostly women. Seasonal Affective Disorder can significantly impair one’s quality of life, including relationships and overall health and mood.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that follows the seasons. It has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight in winter. The experience of SAD can be more than just the “winter blues,” and it is treatable.
Symptoms of SAD
Symptoms of SAD usually begin in October or November and subside by March or April. December through February is often the toughest time, and holiday loneliness and stress can increase symptoms. Symptoms of SAD include:
• Feelings of depression, sadness, loss of self esteem and irritability
• Sleeping more than usual yet still feeling tired
• Increased appetite and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets
• Loss of energy and concentration
• Loss of enjoyment and lack of motivation or interest in activities or socialization
If these symptoms last for more than two weeks, or your daily living is impacted, contact a professional.
Who is at Risk?
• Younger people and women are most commonly affected by SAD. Women make up 75 percent of those diagnosed, yet men exhibit more severe symptoms.
• 10-20 percent of the U.S. population is affected by SAD (as many as half a million people per year).
• Individuals who live in northern regions or farther away from the equator experience SAD more often.
• Individuals who have a family history of SAD are more likely to be affected.