Are you sad? Or rather, are you do you suffer from SAD? By Sad, we are not referring to the emotion. Rather, we refer to a disorder that comes with the seasons – the ones that involve less sunlight, to be specific.
Seasonal affective disorder, also called “winter blues,” is real and has been defined in the psychological diagnostic handbook as one kind of major depression disorder. The good news is that it can lift as the seasons change. The not so good part is that it can recur as the weather turns gloomier.
Research shows that one in ten people in America is affected by SAD. This affirms its significance in the realm of depression. That considered, perhaps you’re wondering about the signs of SAD and whether it’s affecting you as we speak.
“So, you see, while some perceive winter as a festive time when their worlds are blanketed by the purity of snow, others feel that they are being suffocated by a literally colorless existence.” — Jessica Blaszczak
Here are the signs that tell you you’re affected by seasonal depression.
You’re feeling sad
You’re truly feeling the blues. It’s especially telling if some of the activities or things you like no longer give you joy or don’t perk you up anymore. In fact, you may even lose interest in the usual things you do and stop doing them.
It’s likely that you find it hard to concentrate in general and even thinking is rather more challenging than usual. You also find yourself welcoming thoughts of suicide or death more often.
Your body shows it
You feel lethargic like you’re tired all the time. Your energy levels tend to be low too, encouraging the need to go into hibernation. As such, you tend to oversleep and get a heavy sensation in your legs and arms.
You may also lose weight as your appetite changes. This is the case when you get the blues during the summer and spring. Or you can gain extra pounds during the fall and winter because you’re likely to develop a craving for high-carbohydrate food.
Others may notice it
You are more sensitive than usual and react easily to rejection. It’s also possible that someone may have already commented on this change in you. You may also be irritable and anxious or agitated, which may affect your relationships. It may be that, with this condition, you may have difficulty getting along with others. In the case of spring and summer seasonal depression, you may experience insomnia.
How to Deal With SAD
Although SAD can occur in the summer and spring, more cases involve the winter blues. Health professionals recommend more exposure to natural light to help pull yourself from this psychological doldrum. A proper diet and sufficient exercise will also help you beat the effects of SAD as the latter helps boost your heart rate. You can go out for a walk during lunch break if you work in an office, for example.
Also, getting yourself checked by a doctor or mental health professional can be helpful, especially if you’re increasingly obsessed about suicide or when SAD is affecting your productivity and engaging in an addictive behavior, like drinking too much alcohol, to cope with the condition. You may be prescribed antidepressants or receive behavioral therapy treatment. Light therapy is also an option that may be offered to you.
“My SAD has always felt like a tidal wave I was destined to be crushed under; right now, it feels like regular ocean waves. I’m fighting it one crest at a time, falling down sometimes but not always, and knowing a life raft will be there if I need it, knowing someone will come. Not because they have to, but because they want to. Not because they sensed that I was drowning, but because I finally realized it was okay to call out for help.” — Heather Hogan