Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is SAD?

Some people experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression. It usually lifts during spring and summer.

What are symptoms?

Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms. The symptoms include:

  • Sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Prevention and Management of SAD

Because SAD is linked to decreased exposure to light, it is recommended that you do what you can to increase your exposure. Open up blinds in your home and sit close to bright windows at work. Get outside for a long walk – even on cold days the outdoor light will help. It has been shown to be most helpful if you can spend time outside within the first two hours of getting up in the morning. Getting regular exercise, taking time to relax and making healthy food choices are all good ways to manage stress – which can lead to SAD. Socializing with people whom you enjoy being around can make a difference as well. If possible, take a trip to a location that is sunny and warm.
 
Everyone can experience days when they feel down. However, if that feeling persists for days at a time, if your sleep patterns are disrupted, or you’re having feelings of hopelessness or suicide, seek professional help with your doctor.
 
Excerpted from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seasonalaffectivedisorder.html