The holidays were unseasonably warm, but Old Man Winter came knocking on our doors this past weekend to remind us that we aren’t in the clear just yet. While many people delight in frostier forecasts, the short and often dreary days this time of the year leave as many as 11 million Americans feeling the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a subtype of major depression. Millions more experience a milder version of Seasonal Affective Disorder, often called the “winter blues.”
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
- Feelings of pessimism, hopeless, emptiness and/or being in a “slump.”
- Difficulty concentrating and/or getting things done.
- Low energy, fatigue/sluggishness and/or lack of motivation to do things you typically enjoy.
- Oversleeping and/or increased napping, and difficulty waking up in the morning.
- Changes in eating patterns- particularly increased cravings for carbs and sweets.
- Irritability/hypersensitivity which may result in higher conflict with those around you.
- Social withdrawal and/or isolation
Sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder note that the onset of their symptoms typically aligns with weather patterns; they emerge in the late fall and begin to subside in the springtime. Researchers believe the correlation may be linked to decreased amounts of exposure to natural sunlight during the winter months, when days are significantly shorter, especially in higher latitude locations like London and Seattle. Diminished daylight disrupts both melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep) and serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in mood).
The good news is that there are effective ways to cope with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Click here for 3 Tips to Battle the Winter Blues.