Seasonal Affective Disorder is Real and Hard to Deal With

October 25th 2015

Some people have to do more to prepare for winter than others. As the seasons begin to change and October comes to a close, it’s time to pull out jackets, coats, and scarves. And for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s time to prepare for the months when the complex depressive illness is at its worst.


According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a specific type of depression that relates to changes in season. Because of this, SAD usually begins and ends around the same times every year. Most people with SAD see their symptoms begin in the fall and continue throughout the winter.


Clinicians don't know exactly what causes SAD, but factors could include to changes in circadian rhythm, low serotonin levels, and off-balance melatonin levels. Your biological clock can affect mood and drain energy, and can also trickle into more long-standing depression that lasts into the spring, or early summer.


The Mayo Clinic reports that women are more often diagnosed with SAD than men, but men may have more severe symptoms if they are diagnosed. Young people are also more likely to be affected, as well as those with a family history. In addition, people who live far north or south of the equator are more likely to experience SAD. This may be because of decreased exposure to sunlight.

YouTube user LikeKristen also has some tips for how she copes with SAD.

“I’ve been really depressed actually, the last few weeks, I’ve been pushing myself, and trying to help myself, and using coping skills to get me better,” she states.


Sometimes called “winter depression,” the Cleveland Clinic reports that some symptoms of SAD include irritability, weight gain, trouble sleeping, heavy, “leaden” feeling in the limbs, as well as agitation and recklessness. The clinic also reports that about one half million of the U.S. population has SAD.



If you believe you have symptoms of SAD, do not diagnose yourself. Go to a medical professional who can help give you the resources you need to treat the issue. The Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic suggest that light therapy may be an option for you if your doctor diagnoses you with SAD. Light therapy involves sitting or working near a light therapy box; the device emits a bright light similar to natural light. According to Mayo Clinic, "[l]ight therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, easing SAD symptoms."

If you need to search for a therapist near you, the American Psychological Association created a psychologist locator that can help identify professionals near you who can help you with treatment for SAD. To access the locator, click here.

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