As the days get shorter, do you find yourself being less active, feeling sluggish and easily agitated, oversleeping, or experiencing appetite changes? Many people, especially those prone to anxiety and depression, experience these symptoms and others every winter. The good news is you aren’t alone! According to Drs. Steven D. Targum and Norman Rosenthal, nearly twenty percent of the US population suffers from seasonally-based mood changes. This includes both those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the milder ‘winter blues.’ If you fit the symptoms below, you may suffer from SAD. Visit Dr. Angela Reiter and her team in Eastchester; we offer depression testing and can help you combat your seasonal depression symptoms.
What It Is
As we mentioned above, SAD is a seasonal depressive disorder. What this means is, especially for those who live in the northern parts of the US and into Canada, the diminished amount of sunlight we receive every day can impact one’s mood in a lasting manner. SAD generally lasts 4 to 5 months, the time it takes for the days to get longer once again. However, SAD is not restricted to just the winter months; some experience SAD symptoms from working in a building that lacks natural light.
The most common symptoms of SAD are:
- Increased lethargy
- Trouble waking up in the morning
- Sleeping longer – usually 2.5 hours more a night than you would during summer months
- Diet changes and weight gain – especially increased cravings for sugars and carbs
- Trouble concentrating
- Becoming withdrawn from family and friends
This is not a comprehensive list, as SAD sufferers’ experiences vary on an individual basis. This is a list of the most common symptoms.
It Sounds Like Depression
If you think SAD sounds an awful lot like general depression, you aren’t wrong. Many of the symptoms listed above are the same issues that those struggling with Major Depressive Disorder and Mild Depression experience. The distinction here is that SAD is a cyclical pattern of mood changes affected by seasonal changes in sunlight. If you experience SAD symptoms, you may also experience depression symptoms through the rest of the year, though perhaps in a more mild and manageable manner.
How To Treat SAD
There are three options available to treat SAD: Light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. Some find that using a specialized light daily is enough to quiet their SAD symptoms and allow them to live normally. However, many benefit from meeting regularly with a psychologist to treat their SAD symptoms, and some find that mood-balancing medication is what helps the most. A thorough evaluation by a trained psychologist, such as the team at Dr. Angela Reiter’s office in Eastchester, can help you determine whether you are struggling with SAD or not.
If you feel the symptoms above match what you are experiencing, give us a call. The team at Dr. Angela Reiter’s psychology practice in Eastchester can provide you with evaluative services then design a treatment plan specialized for your symptoms and needs. Give us a call to get started today on treating your depression symptoms!