As winter approaches many of us may begin to feel the “winter blues.” Perhaps we will sleep in more, feel more lethargic in our day to day, notice an increased appetite, or even withdraw socially.*
Because of how common these symptoms are in the winter and fall, it can be easy to overlook them, but for some people colder darker seasons bring an onset of a specific type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be understood as a set of major depressive episodes occurring within a specific season. While summer onset SAD does occur, it is much rarer than winter SAD. It is not completely understood why this is, but there are a variety of theories including, but not limited to:
SAD affects some populations more than others. Women, young people, those already suffering from mild to severe depression, and people who live far north of the equator are all at a higher risk of developing SAD. Though doctors disagree about the most effective treatment of SAD, there are a few commonly-used methods that can help.**
If you notice that the winter blues are hitting you especially hard this year, consider looking into the treatment methods listed above, and talking to your therapist about how the seasons may affect you. If you are able, try to maximize your time in the sun as the days get shorter to make sure your body is getting the sunlight and vitamin D it needs to keep you happy.
*Geddes, L. (2017, May 25). Will Norway Ever Beat the Winter Blues? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/03/seasonal-affective-disorder-mosaic/519495/
**Seasonal Affective Disorder. (2016, March). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml