What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Ah, the holidays. It’s a time for people to gather with family, share gifts, and celebrate a new beginning. For most of the country, however, it’s also the time when the days are short, the nights are long, and the weather is cold. The outdoor light that felt so healing from March to November is now mostly shining while people are at work.

As a result of these changes, many people will suffer from a seasonal depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Symptoms of SAD include loss of interest in usual activities, feeling sad, anxious, or irritable, and eating and craving more carbohydrates. The symptoms occur during the winter months, and experts theorize that the lack of natural light can contribute to the condition. They estimate that 10% to 20% of recurrent depression follows a seasonal pattern.

However, SAD can be treated with light therapy (lights are widely available), antidepressant medication and talk therapy. Of course, each case is different and there is not one way to treat SAD. A great first step to addressing your mental health is taking a free and anonymous self-assessment. Aliive-Roberts County makes these assessments available for free at http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/aliive-roberts-county.