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Breakdown: Why the winter season can make you SAD

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:54 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -SAD or Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that usually happens in during the fall and winter season.

Many people who have SAD experience mood changes and symptoms similar to depression. SAD usually occurs in seasons where we have less daylight like during the fall and winter months. According to physicians many start to improve when spring arrives. The hardest months for people with SAD in the United States are January and February. SAD can occur in summer but it is less common according to physicians.

Doctors say the symptoms of sad can be overwhelming and can interfere everyday life. SAD can be treated and according to studies, approximately 5 percent of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it normally lasts about 40 percent of the year. It is more common among women. SAD can happen at any age, but it mostly occurs between ages 18 and 30.

According to physicians SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. When seasons change, people experience a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm that can cause them to be out of step with their daily schedule. SAD is more common in people living far from the equator where there are fewer daylight hours in the winter.

Some of the most common symptoms of SAD include fatigue, even with too much sleep, and weight gain associated with overeating and carbohydrate cravings. SAD symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include many symptoms similar to major depression, such as:

  • feeling depressed almost every day
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Low energy
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Appetite or changes in weight
  • Feeling irritable
  • Moody
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Symptoms specifically for Fall and Winter SAD also called winter depression are:
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, craving high in carbs foods
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness and low energy

There are several treatments for SAD, including light therapy, antidepressant medications, talk therapy or a combination. While symptoms will generally improve on their own with the change of season, symptoms can improve faster with treatment.

If you feel you have symptoms of SAD, seek the help of a trained medical professional. A mental health professional can diagnose the condition and discuss therapy options. With the right treatment, SAD can be a manageable condition.

If you feel you may have SAD consult a doctor immediately

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