As the days get shorter and colder, many people find themselves struggling with fatigue and a serious mood change. Called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, it’s a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. It commonly begins in late fall, stays through winter and eventually lifts in spring or early summer.
The symptoms of SAD are the same as those for depression. They can be differeent and have different severity but a person would experience fatigue, have difficulty concentrating. Here’s the key, you lose interest in the activities you normally enjoyed, have thoughts about death or suicide, and have problems with sleep. Those with SAD can also crave and eat more starches and sweets, they often gain winter weight and have a pervasively sad mood. People dealing with the winter blues have similar symptoms but they’re mild to moderate and don’t meet the criteria. It’s not persistant. You do enjoy the things you normally enjoy.
Don’t self-diagnosis. SAD is a serious health condition. It can get worse and lead to problems if not treated. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. If you’re diagnosed with SAD, treatment may include light therapy, medications and talk therapy with a mental health professional.
There are steps you can take to help reduce symptoms so here are my prescriptions:
1. Spend as much time in daylight as possible
Go for a walk first thing in the morning and try sitting by a window.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet – it’ll give you more energy
If you crave sweets, make a dessert with fruit instead of eating cake and cookies.
3. Exercise five times a week for 30 minutes a day
Consider a winter sport to get you outside during daylight hours.
4. Get out and socialize
Connect with friends and family – social support is very important.
Anyone can get SAD but it’s more common in women – they’re diagnosed four time more often than men. Your risk factors increase if you have relatives with SAD, if you’re between the ages of 15 and 55, or if you live where winter daylight hours are very short.
Chief Health Editor Dr. Nandi joined 7 Action News to take a closer look at the report. Watch his analysis in the video player above.