Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that can appear gradually, or all at once, during the fall and winter months. While symptoms are usually mild to moderate, they can become severe. Unlike Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), symptoms of SAD tend to go into remission throughout spring and summer, though may be experienced throughout the year by those who have less exposure to sunlight during the day. SAD can affect people of all ages, with most people experiencing onset between 18 and 30. SAD is also genetic, and has been shown as being four times more common in women than in men. Considering that December through February tend to be the most difficult months for those coping with the condition, it is important to be aware of possible symptoms and available treatment options throughout the holiday season.
SAD has many symptoms in common with depression, and can include the following:
• Lack of interest in normal activities, or those once enjoyed
• Social withdrawal
• Changes in appetite, such as craving foods high in carbohydrates
• Weight gain
• Low energy
• Hypersensitivity to rejection
• Feelings of depression, hopelessness, or worthlessness
These symptoms can significantly impair one’s daily functioning at a time of year when most others are preparing for the festivity of the holiday season.
There are plenty of treatment options for managing the symptoms of SAD:
If you suspect that you or someone you know or care for may be coping with SAD, talk to your doctor about which treatment option may be best for you. According to the APA “SAD can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections, so proper evaluation is necessary. For some people, SAD may be confused with a more serious condition like severe depression or bipolar disorder.” Once you are your doctor and/or therapist have developed a treatment plan, it is important to stick to that plan. Remember that taking care of yourself is an ongoing process that demands priority.
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Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.psychiatry.org/seasonal-affective-disorder
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Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/coping-support/con-20021047
Wehrenerg, M. (2014, November 10). Seasonal Affective Disorder: Tips to Overcome theDisorder. Psychology Today.
Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/depression-management-techniques/201411/seasonal-affective-disorder-tips-overcome-the-disorder