Let’s talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)! Most of us love this time of the year due to the holidays, spending time with family and loved ones. However, the change of seasons can cause significant alterations in your mood. Less sun, colder temps, and decreased social engagements/turn-ups can impact your mood if you are not careful. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can resemble depression, and you should be aware of the following signs.
- Feelings of fatigue and being tired all of the time
- Excessive sleeping or decreased ability to sleep
- Weight gain due to overeating or loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not wanting to engage in activities or be around people that you once enjoyed
- Increased agitation, irritability, or anxiety
What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
- Serotonin Levels- Serotonin keeps us happy! With decreased sunlight comes decreased levels of the “happy” chemicals our brain naturally makes. Low levels of serotonin equal depressed mood.
- Disruption in sunlight affects our circadian rhythm/our internal clock! If your body’s biological clock is disrupted, sadness may pursue.
When should you seek help for SAD?
- Problems at school and work as a result of your symptoms
- Social withdraw from family and loved ones
- Increased use of substances to cope
- Thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or others
- You’ve been feeling low or irritable for most of the day, every day for two weeks or more. You might have found yourself worrying about past or future events for long periods of time, or simply feeling sad, cross or tearful. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a gradual change – have others noticed that you don’t seem your usual self?
- You’ve lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Perhaps you have been seeing less of your friends or family recently, have stopped going to the gym, or cooking balanced meals. This is really about recognizing changes in what’s normal for you – no one is saying you have to exercise five times a week or eat your greens, but changes in your routine can offer concrete indications that your mood is changing.
- You are struggling to concentrate. You might notice that you struggle to focus when reading or watching television, for example, or to follow the thread of a spoken conversation. This could be affecting your performance at work, or limiting your ability to perform routine tasks such as food shopping. Again, we are looking for a change in what’s normal for you, so if concentration has always been something you find tricky there is little cause for concern.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost