(CBS4) – Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically sets in this time of year. It’s characterized by its recurrent seasonal pattern, with symptoms lasting four to five months per year. Symptoms include low mood, low motivation, and a desire to isolate.
“It really is a depression that meets all the signs and symptoms, but it has that seasonal course,” says Dr. Anat Geva, clinical psychologist with the HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center. “To be diagnosed with SAD, the person would need to have more of these depressive episodes happening during the winter for example, than at any other time.”
According to Mental Health America, about 5% of the US population experiences seasonal depression. Four out of five people who have seasonal depression are women, and it more often affects younger people in their 20s and 30s. Treatments include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
“Good sleep hygiene, good nutrition, and getting exercise can help. It’s believed part of what causes SAD is low serotonin and high melatonin. So, having a routine sleep time makes a difference.”
Dr. Geva says if you or anyone you know is struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Ask yourself; does it make it hard to go to work? Does it make it hard to be around friends and family? You don’t need to have a diagnosis to get help. There’s no need to suffer alone.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling, there is help out there. SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP (4357)) is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.