The weather has been cold for three or four months now, and depending on whether the “groundhog” sees his shadow, there’s still some winter left to weather.
If that fills you with dread – and you’ve been filled with dread for a couple months now – you might just be “SAD,” which in this case stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It helps provide a name and a reason to what you may be calling “the winter blues.”
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
What are the signs?
Your “winter blues” could manifest in many different ways. You may be oversleeping or really craving those high-carbs sweets more than normal. You may also describe it as being “blah” but consider whether you feel any of these possible symptoms:
It can lead to more depression beyond winter
As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to problems if it’s not treated. If you face social withdrawal, school or work problems, substance abuse or anxiety and eating disorders, these probably won’t go away once winter leaves. Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad.
What to do about Seasonal Affective Disorder?
It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.