Although the days are getting longer, many of us still have the winter blues. The characteristics of the colder, dark seasons of fall and winter can bring forth something more serious thana case of the winter blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The terms defines a number of depressive symptoms that are brought on by changing seasons. It is more common in the winter, however, symptoms can be present in the summer.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer,” the National Institute of Mental Health states on their website. “Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”
Symptoms resemble other mood disorders, like major depressive disorder and manic depression. Many people self-diagnose themselves with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“In my opinion, I certainly do have SAD. But I’ve never been diagnosed with it,” Greg Archer, former University student, said. “My depression tends to get worse in the winter and my mood improves in the spring.”
The NIMH states that the disorder is easily self-diagnosed, though. While other mood disorders are hard to diagnose and require a qualified mental health professional, SAD has symptoms easily identifiable by those affected.
Having low energy
Craving for carbohydrates
“I found myself going out less during the winter. At first, I thought it was just because of the weather,” Archer said about his Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder. “It’s not like I wanted to drive in bad weather. But I noticed it happened a couple winters in a row, and my depression got much more pronounced.”
There are several ways to treat SAD which are similar to other mood disorder treatments. For example, people with SAD should partake in more physical activity, participate in talk therapy and practice mindfulness. In severe circumstances, people with SAD can seek out medications to help improve their mood.
While Winter and Summer SAD are similar, Summer SAD is less common and presents different symptoms.
Poor appetite with associated weight loss
Episodes of violent behavior
Those with summer SAD are usually people who are more susceptible to heat or are used to living in colder climates. The symptoms are basically the opposite of winter SAD, but the effects of each are equally serious and require similar treatment.
Anyone who suspects they have SAD can contact their primary care provider for more guidance. The University’s counseling services can be reached at (419)-372-2081.