Seasonal Depression

Feeling down? It might be seasonal affective disorder.

Do you feel down, depressed, moody, or irritable during a particular time of the year? You may suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression linked to seasonal changes, and it begins and ends around the same time every year. For the majority of people, symptoms start in the shorter days of fall or winter but quit with the sun-filled hours of spring or early summer.

SAD can cause feelings of depression for most of the day or nearly every day. Other symptoms include low energy, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, problems sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. A full list of symptoms is available on the Mayo Clinic’s website. For some individuals, symptoms may start out mild but progress as the season wears on.

It is normal to feel down some days, but if you lack motivation and energy and feel blue for multiple days at a time, it is best to make an appointment to see your doctor. While there is no way to prevent SAD, a health care professional can diagnose the disorder and prescribe treatments to help you better manage the symptoms. Such treatments might include brightening up your environment, getting outside more, and making physical activity a regular part of your day. Talk therapy is another proven treatment of depression.

If you think you might suffer from SAD, you are not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, this disorder affects 6 percent of the U.S. population with an additional 14 percent suffering from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes. Females are four times more likely to suffer from the disorder than men. Your risks also increase the farther north you live, as you receive less sunlight compared to those in the south. People can even develop the disorder after moving to more northern climates.

For more information on family-related topics, visit the Oldham Cooperative Extension Office.

Written by Amy Hosier, Associate Extension Professor for Family Life Education. Edited by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant. Reviewed by Chris Duncan, Oldham County Family & Consumer Science Agent.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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