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Feeling SAD? December is Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Month

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is more than just those winter blues or a seasonal “funk.” SAD is a very real type of depression that is most commonly associated with the fall and winter months.

woman sitting by window looking sad out onto a snowy field

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • low energy

  • depressed mood

  • hopelessness

  • irritability or anxiety

  • poor concentration

  • social withdrawal

  • changes in sleep and/or appetite

  • loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

What can you do about it?

  • Structure. Go to bed at a regular time, and get enough rest. Give focus to eating healthy meals on a regular schedule.

  • Make your environment brighter when you can. Open blinds, and sit closer to bright windows.

  • Get outside. Go for a walk, take your lunch outside, take short breaks throughout your day and enjoy the sunshine.

  • Exercise. A regular exercise routine can help with stress relief, and being more fit can help to increase self esteem. Plus, exercise increases levels in your brain of the same chemicals used in anti-depressant medications!

  • Socialize. Connect with the people you enjoy being around.

  • Take a trip. Make an effort to plan for vacations during the winter months when possible.

A couple things to remember:

  • We all have tough days and times when life presents us with an increase in overall stress. It’s ok to have a bad day. However, SAD is a type of depression, and if your symptoms do not improve, or even worsen, it may be time to seek professional support.

  • Treatment options can include psychotherapy, medications, and even light box therapy.

  • Luckily, recovery from any diagnosable mental illness has high success rates, with 70-90% recovery rates when we seek treatment.

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