Many people go through short periods in which they feel sad or not like themselves. It may be due to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a type of depression that happens around the changing seasons. Winter-pattern SAD occurs when people start to feel down as the days get shorter in the fall and winter. They then begin to feel better in the spring, with longer daylight hours. Symptoms of SAD are similar to major depression and include losing interest in once-enjoyed activities, feeling sluggish, sleep problems, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating. For winter-pattern SAD, additional symptoms can include overeating, weight gain, and a desire to hibernate. Many people may suffer from seasonal affective disorder and not know it.
Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. Light therapy, talk therapy, medication and changes in biorhythms (chronotherapy) are often used treatments for seasonal affective disorder. A caring approach integrating evidence-based practices is designed to address life’s struggles effectively in a way that is also uniquely tailored to you and your family.
P.S. SAD is more common in people living farther north where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter.