Seasonal Affective Disorder can cause depression this time of year.
December 14, 2012
If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression –usually in late fall and winter, when the number of hours of sun is decreased. Natural melatonin levels drop and less sun exposure decreases the brain chemical serotonin, which affects mood.
Symptoms of SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully back to normal until early May. The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Carbohydrate craving
- Weight gain
- Decreased sexual interest
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of interest in normal activities
- Social withdrawal
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not uncommon and is very treatable. If your depressive symptoms are severe enough to significantly affect your daily living, consult a mental health professional qualified to treat SAD. He or she can help you find the most appropriate treatment for you.
SOME SUGGESTED NON MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO TRY: Keep track of your daily symptoms and their severity. Recognize your current life stressors. Avoid alcohol as it is a central nervous system depressant and will compound depressive symptoms. Get outside during the day, especially within two hours of getting up in the morning. Exercise. Daily exercise has repeatedly been proven to decrease mild to moderate depressive symptoms.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, SEEK IMMEDIATE CARE.
EITHER THROUGH YOUR DOCTOR OR THROUGH THE NEAREST HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255