Often, when the days become shorter and fall turns to winter, we may begin to feel a noticeable shift in our mood. Millions of people experience this change each year and simply brush it off as a case of the “winter blues.” In reality, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a diagnosable form of depression which may be related to our lessening exposure to the sun, vitamin D, and drops in Serotonin levels during the shorter days of fall and winter. Following are symptoms to help identify if you or a loved one may be experiencing SAD:
- Low energy
- Appetite changes
- Sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
Symptoms generally last 4 to 5 months and start out mild, becoming more severe as the season progresses. In addition, there are factors which may increase your risk for SAD which include: family history, having major depression or bipolar depression, living far from the equator, and low levels of vitamin D.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from SAD, reach out to your health care provider or a mental health specialist. Treatment is available and may include light therapy, psychotherapy, or medication.
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For additional resources visit National Institutes of Mental Health page on Seasonal Affective Disorder.