January - Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Feeling sad this winter? It may just be that time of the year.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons. The symptoms of SAD generally begin in the fall and continue through the winter months. Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, one important factor seems to be sunlight, or lack thereof. The decrease of sunlight in fall and winter might disrupt our biological clocks, leading to feelings of depression.

Symptoms specific to SAD may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Some remedies for SAD:

1) Get outside and soak up the sun as much as you can. Even on cold and cloudy days outdoor light can help. Morning time is best.

2) Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open the blinds during the day and sit near windows.

3) Try doing a centering activity—yoga, meditation or massage. Stretching, breathing and the power of human touch are often underrated but have an immense healing influence.

4) Pharmacology (medication, as recommended and prescribed by a medical professional)

5) Schedule social activities throughout the winter. When you feel depressed social engagement can be difficult, but social support and friendship are some of the best ways to curb depression and loneliness.