Some people are sensitive to shifts in the seasons and environmental light changes. A condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs seasonally. A person can experience the condition in cold or warm weather climates. In North Dakota and Minnesota, most people experience the condition during winter months. In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for SAD, an individual has to have experienced depression during the last two winters (usually, but can occur in summer as well) and begins to feel better in the spring and summer.
What Is It Like to Live with SAD?
Many people report that mood begins to drop in the late fall as they feel winter coming. Once the long, dark days of winter are present, depression symptoms usually are settled-in and people report low energy and light-seeking desires. Many people report increased cravings for sugar and carbs as the body attempts to balance serotonin levels. Testing thyroid levels is often recommended as hypothyroid symptoms are similar to SAD.
If a person is already struggling with depression, before seasonal depression onset, this can feel like a double-dose of low mood and tanked energy levels.
The treatment for SAD is usually a specific handful of behavioral changes, including light therapy. Because energy levels are low, it is easier to make these changes when a person is working with a health partner.
Of course, if depression is already a concern, please reach out to a mental health counselor now- do not wait for winter. Worsening depression symptoms is a serious medical condition and quality of life issue.
Please request provider, Kama Jensen, when calling to schedule an appointment to discuss counseling for seasonal depression.