Understanding and Defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder

As one of many different types of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people. In the United States, it's a common issue linked to the cold winter months, but in reality it can happen throughout the year. Many experts in the psychologist community report that people begin showing symptoms as early as September and they may suffer from the negative feelings associated with SAD as late as April or May. That means that in worse case scenarios, it's possible for someone to suffer from this mood disorder for as much as nine months out of the year.seasonal affective disorder

In order to diagnose a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, it's important to see a psychologist. He or she will discuss the symptoms you're experiencing and confirm a diagnosis. The most common symptoms of SAD include low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and having a feeling of hopelessness in general. Furthermore, these people tend to oversleep and eat more, causing them to gain weight, which can deepen the depression. As with other types of depression, those affected may lose interest in hobbies and other activities they typically enjoy and may severely limit their social activity.

While a psychologist can give personalized advice and discuss a possible need for medication, there are also a handful of things people who suffer from SAD can do at home to alleviate the symptoms:

Stay Active

Being physically active will reduce the likelihood of an unhealthy weight gain and will stimulate endorphins, which can naturally enhance your mood. Group workouts also encourage social interaction with others.

Get Outside

Spending time outside triggers neurotransmitters that can positively impact your mood. Make it a part of your daily routine to go for a quick walk, even during cold weather.

Be Social

It's important to spend time with friends, family, and coworkers to lift your spirits. Plan a weekly dinner out with friends or host a casual get together at your home.

Embrace Winter

People who are successfully able to associate positive activities with winter weather can get tremendous relief from their SAD symptoms. Take up snowshoeing, skiing, or another winter activity to give you something to look forward to during the cold weather.

For more information about SAD, visit our resource guide to find the latest. 

Further Reading

  • What is with the holidays? It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year! We are supposed to be merry and thankful, yet all too often; we become depressed, anxious and stressed out. Nevertheless, if Ebenezer Scrooge can turn his “Bah, humbug!” feeling around, why can’t we?

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep and staying positive continue to be the prescription to better health and lower risks of depression, but recent research in Europe suggests that a quick Botox jab could also give your mood a boost.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that affects millions of people each years as temperatures drop. Even those who are not diagnosed as having SAD by a mental health professional may experience symptoms including include chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and cravings for carbohydrates.  However, light therapy has been used to treat the 'winter blues' for several decades, providing some hope for those who need to brighten up their days and enjoy a brighter outlook.