Wondering why you feel down in the dumps when the cold months show up each year?
Believe it or not, it’s not strange to feel a bit sad during the winter months. In fact, feeling blue during the late fall and throughout the winter is so common that it has a name: seasonal affective disorder. SAD for short, this condition is often called the Winter Blues. But if you think these feelings should be ignored, you’re wrong.
As innocent as SAD may sound, it is a serious condition that can have some serious complications if not dealt with properly. Though the exact causes of SAD are currently unknown, it is thought that the change of seasons may mess up the levels of serotonin and melatonin in your body. These chemicals are responsible for your mood and sleep patterns. Additionally, the change of seasons may also throw a curve ball at your internal clock, making it difficult for your body to know when to be awake or asleep.
A type of depression, SAD kicks in most often when the days grow shorter and darker. When this happens, your mood also grows a bit darker and your temper shortens. You may find yourself feeling moodier than usual and without the energy you normally have during the warm months to get things done.
Other symptoms of SAD include the following:
- gaining weight
- withdrawing from social situations
- sleeping excessively
- feeling hopeless
- experiencing anxiety
- having changes in your appetite
More than SAD
Often, overcoming seasonal affective disorder can be done at home. However, if you choose to not give SAD any attention, you may be at risk for your symptoms growing worse. In the event this happens, you may be facing full-blown depression, complete with increased risk for drug or alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts or actions, problems at home or work, or deeper social withdrawal.
To beat SAD into the ground during the winter, fall, spring, or summer, take steps to welcome natural light into your environment. Spend plenty of time outside walking or even sitting. When your job or other responsibilities force you to be inside, pull back the curtains and open the shades. Every ounce of sunlight helps fend off the symptoms of SAD. Additionally, be sure to get plenty of exercise. Your SAD symptoms grow worse when you’re feeling anxious or stressed out, and getting exercise helps get rid of both of these risk factors.
In severe cases, light treatment and medications are available to help get rid of SAD – but the preferred treatment is always the less invasive. And while it’s impossible to completely avoid the onset of SAD during the cold months, you can use the same steps for treatment to help prevent SAD from affecting you.
So get outside now and stay out until you have soaked up enough sunshine and fresh air to ward off any feelings of SADness that may be threatening your happiness.
In some cases, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sets in during the warmer months. If you find yourself feeling blue when the rest of the world is soaking up the sun and having fun, it may be SAD.
Symptoms include the following:
- difficulty sleeping
- being irritable
- having a poor appetite
- experiencing an increased sex drive
- feeling anxious
Just like SAD during the cold months, recognizing the condition and taking steps to overcome the symptoms will help you enjoy life every month of the year!