Don’t be SAD – Understanding the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Seasonal affective disorder is generally caused by the change in available sunlight through the seasons.  Winter onset SAD generally starts in late fall and ends by spring.  Summer onset SAD starts in late spring and generally ends by fall.  Seasonal affective disorder usually doesn’t start until the late 20’s and gets less prevelant as you grow older.  Seasonal affective disorder is more common in northern areas as the winters are much colder and harsh.  Here are some of the symptoms displayed when suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

  • Have you experienced a change in your appetite? Do you crave sweet or starchy foods? Are you gaining a lot of weight? Are you hitting the vending machine for snacks when normally you wouldn’t?
  • Have you noticed a lack of energy? Are you oversleeping a lot and feeling fatigued? If you tend to oversleep a lot during the winter you may have seasonal affective disorder.

  • Do you find yourself avoiding social interaction and are more sensitive to rejection? Are you avoiding parties and doing the things that you once enjoyed?

  • Are you irritable and have difficulty concentrating? Do your friends and family seem to annoy you all the time?

  • The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder keep coming back year after year at about the same time. Winter SAD is most commonly brought about by reduced sunlight whereas summer SAD is caused by the increased sunlight.

Generally speaking the best way to treat seasonal affective disorder is by using light therapy, which is, in a nutshell, just being exposed to bright light for about 30 minutes a day.

As always, if you are experiencing severe depression you should consult with a physician  

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