Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This has been a particularly difficult winter in Northern California. Long-time residents of the San Francisco Bay Area report that they have not seen rainfall of this magnitude in 30 years. Aside from flooding and traffic delays, there have been days on end of cloudiness and rain.
Even in the years with milder conditions, some people report what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year and is related to changes in seasons. Most people with SAD report symptoms beginning in the fall and continuing into winter before subsiding in spring.
Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it might be caused by a lack of sunlight. Four percent to six percent of people in the United States is estimated to suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience a mild form of SAD. Sad affects more women than men and SAD tends to be hereditary.
Symptoms of SAD include:
- Feeling sad, grumpy, irritable, or anxious
- Losing interest in one’s normal activities
- Eating more and craving carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Sleeping more but feeling tired/low energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy “leaden” feeling in arms and legs
If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you should consult with your physician. Lifestyle changes that can improve your symptoms include:
- Going outside more often
- Getting plenty of sunlight when you can
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Practice relaxation exercises
- Consider light therapy
For an online quiz for Seasonal Affective Disorder click on this link.