Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder. Someone is  sitting down up against a wall holding a picture of a frowny face in front of them.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (also referred to as “winter blues”) is a type of depression triggered by the seasons. Many people experience short periods of feeling sad or not like their usual selves. Sometimes, the mood changes begin and end when the seasons change. In some cases, these mood changes can affect how someone handles activities of daily living.

Short, dark days and cold temperatures can make anyone wish for warm sunny days, but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more than just experiencing the winter blues. According to the American Psychological Association, decline in the amount of daylight during fall and winter months is to blame for SAD.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

• Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

• Loosing interest in activities you once enjoyed

• Having problems with sleep

• Feeling sluggish or agitated

• Experiencing changes in appetite or weight

• Social withdrawal

• Having thoughts of death or suicide

In addition to seeking help from a healthcare professional, there are a few lifestyle changes that can improve symptoms and lift your mood.

• Maximize exposure to daylight – make the home brighter, keep blinds and curtains open during the day.

• Engage in activities – spend time with friends and family, go to the mall and other activities you enjoy.

• Practice healthy habits – exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, spend time outdoors if possible.

• Get plenty of sleep.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can make it hard to feel motivated, but there are plenty of ways to help yourself feel better.  By adopting healthy habits and scheduling fun and relaxation into the day, you can help lift the SAD cloud for a sunnier day.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Seasonal affective disorder: More than the winter blues.  American Psychological Association. [Internet]. October 15, 2021.