In an article by Sherri Melrose, it is explained that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a recurrent form of depression during the fall and winter seasons. Common signs that someone is dealing with SAD includes sad mood, low energy, irritability, crying frequently, lethargy, abnormal sleep, decreased physical activity, carbohydrate craving, and withdrawal from social activity. Severity of symptoms is different in each patient and can include violent behavior. Women are more affected by SAD than men, and SAD begins to occur between 18 and 30 years of age.
Currently there are multiple ways to help those with SAD, including antidepressants, light therapy, vitamin D, and counseling. Antidepressants prevent the reuptake of serotonin and light therapy is a way to mimic the light that is produced from the sun. Vitamin D supplementation is important because the body is not as capable of producing vitamin D without light exposure. Counseling is another method for helping those with SAD because of the help and support that it can provide to the patient. It is helpful to limit sugar intake, increase exercise, manage stress, and avoid social withdrawal when symptoms are not sever. It is also helpful to patients to provide instruction about mindfulness, and enjoyable activities.
SAD is a serious problem that most people do not realize is the reason for a change in mood over the fall and winter seasons. It’s interesting how it is caused by small changes in the body, but it is very important for people to take care of themselves when onset occurs. I can understand how it can be difficult to diagnose, and it can be very difficult for the patient to understand what is happening. Treatment is important to start and continue throughout the darker months.
Melrose S. Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depress Res Treat. 2015.