Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): It’s More than Just Post-Holiday Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a subtype of depression in which the person experiences feelings of sadness, a sudden loss of interest in things they usually enjoy and an overall negative fluctuation from their baseline mood. SAD is different from regular depression in that the contributing factors are a bit more specific: these include less natural sunlight and the nostalgia that usually follows the holiday season. The symptoms of SAD can vary from person to person but usually include persistent sad, anxious or “empty feelings”, feelings of pessimism and hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, fatigue and decreased energy, insomnia or excessive sleeping, difficulty concentrating, irritability and restlessness as well as thoughts of suicide and/ or attempts at suicide (nimh.nih.gov). More often than not, when these symptoms show up during the winter months, it may be more serious than just post-holiday blues.
Although women are 70% more likely to experience depression in their lifetime and the likelihood of experience peaks at 32 years old, anyone can experience it. Therefore it is a matter that should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know thinks that they may have SAD, talk to a therapist as soon as possible. He/she can tell you about the various treatment options that are used to combat SAD. This could include light therapy, psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medications. Light therapy helps to reset your body’s daily rhythms and increase melatonin that may have been thrown off and decreased due to the lack of natural sunlight. Unfortunately, light therapy alone does not always help. Therefore psychotherapy and/or medications are usually the treatments of choice. Psychotherapy allows you to gain insight into your depression and learn how to change certain behaviors and thought patterns that may be making things worse for you; when combined with antidepressants that increase certain chemicals in your brain that are involved in regulating your mood, the long term prognosis of SAD is bright (no pun intended!).
If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.
Sources: mentalhealth.gov, nimh.nih.gov
By: Shivani J. Patel