Seasonal Affective Disorder


Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a kind of depression that occurs seasonally, usually in the winter months. Though depression can start or get worse for many reasons, experts say that this type of depression can be can be caused by the lack of sunlight we get in the winter as we cover up our bodies and the days get shorter. If you or someone in your family experiences depression, especially SAD, you may be at a higher risk of being affected by SAD. Take notice if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Feeling sad, down, or anxious
  • Feeling sluggish, like you don’t want to do anything, especially activities you usually enjoy
  • Craving a lot more carbs
  • Sleeping more than usual, and/or feeling very tired during the day
  • Weight gain
  • Having feelings of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts

If this does sound like you or someone you know, there is help! SAD is a very treatable disorder. Here are some simple ways to boost your mood and feel better:

  • Stay active! Exercise is a great way to fight depression, as it increases your energy, helps you feel good about yourself, and releases natural feel-good chemicals, called endorphins, in your brain. Sticking to your normal routine and activities, even when you may not feel like it, is also helpful.
  • Eat right! Maintaining a healthy diet can keep your body in balance and keep you getting the right nutrients you need to fight depression.
  • Rest! Sticking to a good sleep schedule is vital for keeping yourself strong, as well as preventing the build-up of stress that can make depression worse.
  • Lighten up your life! Experts recommend that SAD be treated with light therapy to make up for the sunlight you are missing out on in the winter. This is easy to do at home by spending some time in the morning in front of a “light box” that you can find online.
  • Seek help! It is never a bad idea to talk to someone about what you are struggling with to get more support and find more ways to feel better. Call the Varner House to get connected to a counselor (540-568-6552)

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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