Do you experience mood changes at specific times of the year? If so, you may be experiencing a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is caused by changes in seasons and it begins and ends at the same times each year. For most people, SAD begins late fall and continues into the winter months. Some people experience symptoms of SAD in the spring and summer months as well.
SAD is a subtype of depression so its symptoms are similar to major depressive disorder. Some of these symptoms include: tiredness or low energy, appetite changes, weight gain, oversleeping, having difficulty concentrating etc.
Even though it is unclear what the specific causes of SAD are, it is thought to be related to changes in biological clock. The internal clock may be disrupted by reduced sunlight in the fall and winter months leading to Depressive symptoms.
If feel you are experiencing symptoms of winter blues that have been persistent over several days, see your doctor. You may be suffering from SAD. This is especially important if you are experiencing changes in sleep pattern or appetite or you are feeling hopeless or having suicidal thoughts.
There are effective treatments for SAD. These may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. Light therapy includes sitting a few feet from a special light box. This ensures that you are exposed to bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Though research on light therapy is limited, it is first line treatment for fall onset SAD and its effective for relieving symptoms for most people.