Are you feeling sad? Don’t get the tissues just yet. You may have a case of the winter blues, which is clinically known as seasonal affective disorder. Although it affects 15 million people each year, there’s good news.

The condition is treatable.

What’s SAD?

SAD is a seasonally driven type of depression. Technically, it’s considered a sub-type of depression or bipolar, meaning it only affects people who are already experiencing one of these mood disorders.

  • It’s called seasonal because people experience it during the fall-winter or spring-summer seasons.
    • Winter-onset SAD begins in fall and lasts through winter. It is the most common type of seasonal depression.
    • Summer-onset SAD starts in spring and lasts through summer.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience SAD.
  • SAD is directly related to lack of daylight.

Spot the Signs and Symptoms

Winter SAD

  • Craving high-carbohydrate foods
  • Feeling tired
  • Gaining weight
  • Oversleeping

Summer SAD

  • Feeling anxious
  • Having trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Losing appetite/weight

Feel Better

If you think you have SAD, talk with your primary care doctor. Diagnoses are made by physical and/or psychological evaluation. Once you’ve been evaluated, consider which therapy (or treatment combination) works best for you.

  • Seek light. Phototherapy (light therapy) directly targets the root of the problem by exposing you to more light.
  • Try a prescription medication. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant for you to take before the start of a triggering seasonal change.
  • Talk with someone. Psychotherapy can help you talk about your feelings and find ways to cope better.
  • Get moving. Exercise is one of the quickest mood boosters around. Plus, you’re likely experience other health benefits.

Talk with your doctor about the treatment approach that may work best for you. If you don’t have one, we can help.

Related Reading: Holiday Blues Run Much Deeper for Some