Feeling sad? You may be dealing with seasonal affective disorder
It’s cold outside, and gray, and it lasts for months. Fall and winter can trigger a type of depression in some people. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
Dr. Lani V. Jones is an author, scholar, therapist and professor at UAlbany. She explained as soon as we hit September and it starts to get colder and darker, our bodies begin to react. Jones refers to SAD as the “winter blues”.
“A majority of the adult population – especially between the ages of 18 to 50 – kind of deal with the winter blues…” – Jones said. “I don’t want anyone to think it’s abnormal to kind of grapple with seasonal change.”
Melatonin is a sleep related hormone that has been linked to SAD. The body naturally makes more melatonin when it’s dark, so when the days are shorter and darker, more melatonin is made.
In the Capital Region for the rest of the month of November, we will lose on average about two minutes of daylight each day.
According to research, as the winter drags on, so do symptoms of SAD.
Be aware of whether you begin to isolate more, whether you’re away from your friends and family because the weather makes it difficult, especially as the rain and the snow begins to hit, Jones explained.
“Whether or not you kind of feel down, and you know in May you feel differently, there’s a pattern, said Jones. “Whether you find yourself over snacking and not exercising, and maybe not picking up the phone as much as often.”
Those are just a few symptoms. Other symptoms may include feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty, having problems with sleeping too much, or even having thoughts of not wanting to live.
“It’s not to also be confused with depression,” said Jones. “So the difference is you notice this change when the seasons change, and you kind of perk up come May, April.”
If you are having trouble coping with SAD, of if symptoms last into the spring, you should contact your physician.