By: Julia Keys
Seasonal Depression, clinically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, affects about five percent of American adults annually. SAD is a type of depression where the weather and seasonal changes causes one to feel depressed. SAD symptoms most commonly flare up around the late fall to the early spring months. During this time of the year, the sun is out shorter and its rays are less intense. Psychologists hypothesize that the lack of sunlight contributes to SAD by affecting healthy hormonal balances. Although most cases of SAD occur during the late fall to early spring seasons, some people do have seasonal depression during the warmer spring and summer months. Studies show that alcohol consumption and depression go hand-in-hand, which can be particularly harmful when suffering from SAD.
Symptoms of SAD:
- Feeling of sadness or depressed mood
- Lack of motivation
- Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
- Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
- Increase in restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide
Fortunately, there are many different treatments to help those with SAD reduce their symptoms. Psychotherapy and medication are helpful for those suffering from SAD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT helps patients change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to their symptoms. Psychiatrists most often prescribe antidepressants such as Lexapro or Prozac to help those with SAD. A new type of therapy, light therapy, has proven to help those with SAD by exposing them to artificial light which takes the place of the light they are missing on short fall or winter days. One usually sits in front of the light box for about twenty minutes each morning. Patients usually start feeling better after two to three weeks of light therapy. In addition to the services professionals can provide to help, there are lifestyle choices that one can make to lessen the effects of SAD such as avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting regular exercise, getting a healthy amount of sleep and eating a healthy diet.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, please contact Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .
Source for Picture: