What’s seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring. It is more than just "the winter blues" or "cabin fever."
Can seasonal depression happen in the summer?
Although it is not as well documented, there are many anecdotal stories about “reverse” SAD which happens when people suffer during summer months.
What does seasonal depression feel like?
If shorter days and shifts in weather zap your energy and make you feel blue, you’ve got classic symptoms of a seasonal mood disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression triggered by the change in seasons that occurs primarily in winter. Why do some people get SAD? Experts aren’t certain, but some think that seasonal changes disrupt the circadian rhythm: the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel energized and alert sometimes and drowsy at other times.
Another theory is that the changing seasons disrupt hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, which regulate sleep, mood, and feelings of well-being. About 4 to 6 percent of U.S. residents suffer from SAD and as many as 20 percent may have a mild form of it that starts when days get shorter and colder. Women and young people are more likely to experience SAD, as are those who live farther away from the equator. People with a family history or diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder may be particularly susceptible.
Who does seasonal depression affect?
Seasonal depression can affect ANYONE. Symptoms of seasonal depression are often similar to the symptoms of any major depression. The person with seasonal depression is likely to feel less energetic and more fatigued, have difficulty in concentrating and be irritable and anxious, may oversleep and have lessened interest in activities previously enjoyed.
How to fight seasonal depression.
It is important to treat SAD, because all forms of depression limit people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest, to enjoy their families, and to function well at work or school. Things you can do at home to prevent or intervene on seasonal depression include: get moving/exercise, let the sunshine in, try meditation, stick to a schedule, keep a journal, get a hobby, go exploring. If your seasonal depression is more severe, please seek professional help through a doctor or counselor. Medications and other strategies may be called for.