• UPROAR Contributor

Seasonal Depression: Are You Sad Or Are You SAD Sad?

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

With the autumn season, comes falling leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything, cooler temperatures, and for some, seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.


SAD is a type of depression that typically starts around the same time every year. Symptoms start to appear when the season changes to fall and can go on through the winter months. So, if you've been feeling 'off' or 'different' lately, this might be the answer to your confusion. You may notice more feelings of not being your usual peppy self or that your energy levels dip.


You are not alone! In a given year, about five percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression.


We have been there one too many times. This time we decided to put our foot on the ground and unite us SAD folks by sharing some helpful tips on what to look out for, what causes the disorder, and how you can process it all.


Symptoms

Although the symptoms of SAD may vary, there are many common ones. Many have felt sluggish, hopeless, and depressed for most of the day, on the daily. Activities that were once enjoyable aren’t interesting anymore, weight gain is possible, and it’s hard to concentrate at work or school - even on regular everyday tasks like cooking or cleaning.


Additional symptoms that could also occur are not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, having thoughts about suicide, death, and contemplating being alive.



Causes


There isn’t a known specific reason why SAD develops, but many scientists believe that there is a link to less daylight, thus leading the brain to make less of a certain hormone. Usually, sunlight helps make serotonin, the chemical in your brain that helps regulate mood. Based on this theory, your biological clock is disrupted because of the hormonal changes, throwing the brain and body out of whack.


In other words, you can take a breather and just blame Mother Nature for once.



Diagnosis


There are two ways you can diagnose SAD. Firstly, you can self-diagnose (although not recommended), by paying attention to your moods and behavior during this change of seasons to help determine if you may have SAD. Of course, do your research along with this and see what other credible sources are saying.


Secondly, if you’ve noticed a cycle of changing moods over the past few seasonal changes, or if you didn’t feel the mentioned symptoms during any other time of year, you can go to a professional to seek help.


Fact: SAD is usually diagnosed more often in women and people who have another form of depression or bipolar disorder.



Treatment


It’s pretty normal to have days when you feel cranky or down, but if these moods continue for several days at a time or if you don’t have the motivation to do the things you normally enjoy doing, make an effort to see your doctor. Getting help from a doctor is very important if you notice a change in eating habits, sleep patterns, and if you have thoughts about suicide.


Depending on each person, treatment differs. Your doctor may recommend anti-depressant medication, light therapy, spending time outside even in cloudy weather, exercising daily for about 30 minutes, and keeping interaction with your social circle, even if it’s difficult.


Informing your loved ones and friends of what you are going through is also important during this process so that they can support you in the best way they can.



Ways to Ease SAD


You can add these other activities to your routine to help with SAD this year, as well.



  • Aromatherapy can help the area of the brain that controls moods and your internal clock that influences your appetite and sleep. Adding drops of poplar oil or lavender to your bath and setting up an oil diffuser may also help.


  • Vacationing in warm climates. Escaping cold, cloudy weather can be helpful in recharging. (And who doesn't love a reason to travel to the beach?!)


  • Stay consciously busy. Schedule movie nights, dinners with friends, host gatherings, and participate in local groups, such as a book club or art club. Be conscious about it because it's okay to spend time alone and get to learn about yourself during this process, too.


  • Add vitamin D to your daily supplements. Studies show that those who took vitamin D supplements showed improvement in their mood.



October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. It’s the perfect time to help yourself or help someone you know by reading more about topics like this.


Leave us a comment below letting us know what kind of activities you like to do during the cold, gray days to keep you busy and happy!



With gloomier days and cold weather approaching, make sure you are prepared and don’t let SAD bully you around. If you or anyone you know struggles with SAD here are a few resources you can find locally to seek help:


Mental Health America of Greater Dallas

North Texas Behavioral Health Authority

Suicide Prevention (800) -SUICIDE (784-2433)

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