Handling Seasonal Affective Disorder
It’s not unusual to be affected by the changes in seasons. If you love summertime – the heat, the beaches, being out of doors – the coming of Fall might make you a bit sad. Others may adore the cold months and all the festivities, so when the holiday season ends, some people may feel down for a few days. Seasonal Affective Disorder is more severe than such human experiences. Let’s talk about what it is, how to tell if you are suffering from it, and where to get help.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic website, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) “is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.”
Some symptoms include:
- Feeling listless, sad, or down most of the day nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy and feeling sluggish
- Having problems with sleeping too much
- Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating, and weight gain
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Having thoughts of not wanting to live
It’s normal to feel down sometimes. If you find yourself feeling low for days at a time or if you can’t get motivated to do activities you usually enjoy, it’s time to see your mental health care provider. Getting help is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.
Even with a thorough evaluation, it can be difficult for your health care provider or mental health professional to diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder as other types of mental health conditions can cause similar symptoms.
To help diagnose SAD, a thorough evaluation generally includes a physical exam, lab tests, and a psychological evaluation.
How Can My Psychotherapist Help Me with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
If it has been determined that you are suffering from SAD, working with a psychotherapist can help you:
- Learn healthy ways to cope, primarily by reducing avoidance behavior and scheduling meaningful activities
- Identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be making you feel worse
- Learn how to manage stress
- Build in healthy behaviors, such as increasing physical activity and improving your sleep patterns
Here at John Nichols Psychotherapy, I provide a space where you can feel safe sharing your story, discover growth strategies, and ultimately learn to live successfully and happily on your own.
Being human is complicated. Navigating depression, anxiety, relationships, trauma and other significant hurdles may appear brave, but in fact it can be isolating. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out for help, instead. I’m here for you.
Book an appointment online today!