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Does Winter Make You Sad?

person outdoors wearing winter coat on a blustery day wondering does winter make you sad

As the sun starts setting earlier and the weather gets colder, many people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For most, SAD begins and ends around the same time every year. This condition can affect a person’s mood, energy, and general mental health. Stop looking up “detox programs near me” and reach out to one of Springfield Wellness Center’s healthcare professionals today via 844.334.4727 to discuss treatment options.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

For many, symptoms start mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling sad for most of the day, every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy, fatigue
  • Over-sleeping
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Suicidal ideations

The symptoms of SAD can also vary depending on the season. For those who experience SAD during the winter, the symptoms may be:

  • Oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite, craving less healthy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Low energy and fatigue

Summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include symptoms such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation/anxiety
  • Irritability

SAD is a subcategory of clinical depression. With SAD, depression symptoms become more severe when seasons change. For most people struggling with SAD, these symptoms begin around the fall and continue late into the winter, eventually resolving around spring and summer. However, some people experience the opposite—their SAD symptoms develop during warmer months and subside by the fall.

Diagnosing SAD

For a person to be diagnosed with SAD, they must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have major depression symptoms
  • These episodes must occur during specific seasons for at least two consecutive years. It is important to note that not all people struggling with SAD experience their symptoms yearly.
  • These episodes must be more severe and frequent than other depressive episodes the person has had throughout the year or their lifetime

If you are concerned that you or a loved one might struggle with SAD, it’s time to talk to a mental health specialist about it. They might have you fill out specific questionnaires or tests to determine if your symptoms correspond with SAD.

Treating SAD

There are several available treatments for those struggling with SAD. The available treatments fall into four main categories that can be used alone or combined. They are:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Vitamin D

The best way to treat seasonal affective disorder is by talking to your healthcare provider about which treatment option is best for you.

Light Therapy

Since the 1980s, light therapy has been one of the most effective treatments for SAD. The bright light compensates for the lack of natural light in darker months. During treatment, a person sits in front of a 10,000 lux light box for 30 to 45 minutes. Treatment sessions can be scheduled from fall to spring, usually first thing in the morning.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can treat people struggling with SAD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used in two weekly group sessions for at least two weeks and focuses on combating negative thoughts about the weather and the person.

Medications

Since SAD is a type of depression, it is known to disturb serotonin activity and can be treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) when symptoms occur. Commonly used SSRIs include fluoxetine, citalopram, sertraline, paroxetine, and escitalopram. Bupropion can also be used for major seasonal affective disorder episodes.

Vitamin D

Most people struggling with SAD will often have a vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, daily supplements can help subdue the symptoms.

Find Seasonal Disorder Treatment in Louisiana at Springfield Wellness Center

Struggling with SAD can make a person’s life incredibly difficult. However, there are treatments available. If you or a loved one are struggling with SAD, contact Springfield Wellness Center today via 844.334.4727 to discuss your treatment options.