Seasonal Depression and SAD

The holidays bring anticipation, excitement and joy for many. But when it’s all over, some find returning to normal, everyday life more challenging than others. Seasonal depression, occurring after the holidays, can stem from several common causes. One cause is the letdown after the holiday festivities. Another is financial concerns about paying off holiday spending. A third is the anxiety caused by giving up on New Year’s Resolutions after a few days or weeks. Combine these situations with the thought that there may be nothing much to look forward to in the coming months—characterized by colder and drearier weather. It can be overwhelming. Dreary weather is a cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder too. Researchers believe that the lack of sunlight during Fall and Winter causes changes in our body’s internal clock and rhythms. These changes can cause depression. SAD often lasts through Winter until Spring. The difference between SAD and other types of depression is that symptoms generally improve as the days lengthen during Spring and Summer with SAD. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are similar to other forms of depression:

  • Sadness

  • Fatigue and lack of energy

  • Sleeping too much or trouble sleeping

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Loss of interest in activities

SAD is more common for those living in northern regions as they have the least amount of sunlight during Fall and Winter. But SAD can strike in sunnier areas as well, including Southern California. Like other forms of depression, SAD is treatable. Talk therapy can help identify and treat SAD, as it treats other forms of depression—with or without the aid of medication. Light therapy is also often effective in treating SAD. Light therapy involves a particular device that emits light similar to natural outdoor light and replaces sunlight, which can be inadequate during the Fall and Winter months. Other ways that may help relieve depression, especially SAD: Getting outside during the day—especially when it’s sunny Letting the light in and face the window or door when possible Getting some form of exercise daily Diagnosing SAD or Seasonal Depression is the first step. Patient awareness is key to starting a path to recovery.