It’s estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may affect as many as 10 million Americans. The number may be much higher because research is based on the method of self-reporting. If you’re struggling with SAD, know that you’re not alone. You can fight SAD with at-home techniques as well as professional help.
First, it’s helpful to know if you may have the condition.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common form of depression that typically affects people during the fall and winter months. Some individuals may experience the condition in the summer, though the occurrence is much less prevalent.
How Do I Know if I Have SAD?
If you think you may be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, take the GR8NESS quiz below. Remember, the only way to get a true diagnosis is by seeing a medical professional.
Do I Have SAD? Quiz:
What Causes SAD?
The exact causes of SAD are unknown, though it is believed that the condition is linked to changes in daylight. As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, people are less likely to spend time outside. With little-to-no sunlight exposure, people can experience vitamin D deficiencies, which have been linked to depressive episodes.
Risk factors include having a family history of depression or having an existing diagnosis of another mental health disorder. Additionally, women are four times as likely to experience SAD than males, and the most common age of onset is between the ages of 18 and 30 years old.
What Are the Symptoms of SAD?
Symptoms of SAD vary by person, but there are key indicators to look out for. These include:
- Depressed mood
- Changes in appetite, notable weight gain
- Becoming socially withdrawn or distant
- Excessive fatigue or the desire to sleep all the time
- Increased feelings of anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
How to Fight SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder is much more serious than “the winter blues,” so it’s important to take action right away. There are many techniques to fight SAD:
- Speak with your family doctor or therapist
- Vitamin D supplements
- Light therapy
- Spend more time outside
- Maintain an exercise routine
- Keep up with a healthy diet
- The use of psychiatric medication, if deemed appropriate by a medical professional
If you’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek medical care immediately.
The United States National Suicide Prevention Line is available 24 hours a day for anyone who may need it: 1-800-273-8255