Does it ever feel like this time of year is more difficult to get through than the other months? As if you suddenly feel increased fatigue, the urge to want to stay home, or lack of motivation to get through the day? Or, you might feel a lack of energy during the work day or lack of desire to connect with family and friends? If these feelings sound familiar, then you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as Seasonal Depression. While it’s easy to dismiss these feelings as a result of decreased sunlight and lowering temperatures, Seasonal Depression is a very real disorder that presents differently for everyone who experiences it.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression related to the change in seasons. While general depression can be diagnosed year round, Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually experienced during the fall and winter months. During this time of year, there are many physical changes that happen in your environment which can impact your brain and body. As the seasons transition to winter, you’ll notice the hours of sunlight decreasing, the temperature dropping and the options for outdoor activities decreasing. While all of these things are routine and expected for the changing of seasons, the way that they affect your body is something that every person experiences differently.
What Are The Symptoms?
During the Fall and Winter months, the change in weather and environment make it difficult to maintain the physical activity and energy levels of the previous months. During a seasonal affective depressive episode, you may see fluctuations in eating habits as well as sleeping habits. Similarly, during a seasonal affective depressive episode, you may find yourself struggling with motivation to complete activities. If you find yourself relying on food and sleep heavily during the colder months as a way of soothing, or lacking energy to complete tasks, there may be a possibility that you are undergoing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Who Can Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone during the colder seasons. There are no set rules for who is and who isn’t susceptible to suffering from Seasonal Depression and roughly 2-3% of North American residents experience the disorder to some degree. While the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are very “come and go” for the average person, there are some predispositions that may increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those who experience anxiety or general depression are 5 times more likely to be aware of and encounter the disorder. Likewise, those who are previously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are at the highest risk of developing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder as their prognosis is rooted in the fluctuation of their symptoms.
Why Is It Important To Recognize S.A.D.?
Because Seasonal Affective Disorder is harder to recognize through the changing of the seasons, it can be difficult to perceive what it looks like in your everyday life. If you already suffer from general depressive episodes or anxiety, the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may not surprise or challenge you, but acknowledging where your symptoms are stemming from can be the first step to better understanding your mental health. By recognizing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may be able to take small steps into your healing journey and big steps into the person you want to be.
If you believe that you or a loved one may be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, we can help! At Mind Body and Soul, we have a team of knowledgeable clinicians who share a commitment to helping people and they each have unique training and professional experience. We want to help you through all the seasons of your life, but especially through those that bring challenges that we can navigate together. By reaching out to us and scheduling a session, we can make sure that you receive the support you need through the long winter months.