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Feeling down lately? You might be showing signs of seasonal affective disorder

November 5, 2019

As the leaves begin to fall and the temperature starts to drop, mood and behavior changes are common for those who have seasonal affective disorder. Yes, it's true -- the weather and season changes impact the daily lives of many.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in late fall and early winter and disappearing as the spring and summer seasons approach. While depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, these are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.

Women are actually 4 times as likely to be diagnosed with SAD, and younger adults have the highest risk of developing SAD. Family history and preexisting diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder, can certainly play a role, as well. Additionally, those who live farther away from the equator also have a higher chance of being diagnosed with SAD.

While the cause of SAD is unknown, there are some biological insights that researchers have found. For example, people with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin, and darkness increases the production. Hence, dark winter days make people with SAD tired and sluggish. It's also been found that people with SAD may produce less Vitamin D, which is said to affect serotonin activity. 

So, how do you know if you are living with SAD, and how can you treat it? Let's find out.

To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet the criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons.

Symptoms of major depression can include:

  • Feeling depressed, hopeless or worthless

  • Low energy

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Insomnia

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of SAD can include: 

  • Having low energy

  • Hypersomnia

  • Overeating

  • Weight gain

  • Craving for carbohydrates

  • Social withdrawal or “hibernating”

Can you treat SAD? Yes, you can treat SAD through medication, therapy, psychotherapy and Vitamin D. Many people live with SAD by utilizing one or all of these treatment methods. At Clearwater Counseling, PC, we treat major depression, SAD and various other diagnoses. We can help you start feeling like yourself, all year round. 

To schedule an appointment with one out trained mental health professionals, call 308-210-8487 or email

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