Could You Be Suffering from Seasonal Depression Disorder
Seasonal Depression: What It Is and How to Treat It
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
What used to be called the “winter blues” is now recognized as a widely experienced form of depression triggered by the changes in the seasons. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and for most sufferers, it occurs during the later fall and into the winter. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 4-6% of Americans suffer from SAD.
"SAD is a very real and serious disorder,"says Pamela Durdahl, Executive Director of A Friend's House in Bluffton, IN. "People who suffer from depression due to Seasonal Affective Disorder are having feelings that are more serious than sadness. If left untreated, can worsen and lead to thoughts of suicide."
What are the symptoms of SAD?
If you already suffer from depression — or are experiencing extra stress in life, such as that caused by injury or chronic pain — you are more susceptible to experiencing SAD. Symptoms often begin slowly then become more severe as the season progresses. Symptoms of SAD include:
- tiredness, low energy, difficulty getting out of bed
- loss of interest in day to day activities
- a heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms and legs
- irritability, feelings of rejection, problems getting along with others
- appetite changes and weight gain
Be on the lookout for signs of major depression (SAD is a subtype of this illness) and discuss these with your medical professional as soon as possible. Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- having thoughts of death or suicide
Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment
While SAD can be treated with light therapy, prescription drugs, and other medical approaches, the following are proven ways to manage and decrease its impact:
- exercise regularly
- increase your exposure to daylight — open blinds, sit near windows at work or school
- get outside during the day — even exposure to the sunlight through clouds is beneficial
- eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (like fish, walnuts, and spinach)
- discuss taking Omega-3 supplements with your doctor
- get more Vitamin D and talk to your doctor about testing your Vitamin D levels
If you or someone you know is suffering from any type of depression, seek help immediately. While most people experience SAD during the Winter months, it can happen during other times of the year as well.
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