As the seasons transition, the obvious changes such as falling leaves and brisk temperatures indicates that fall and winter is upon us. However, for some if not most, we do not notice how these season changes effect us mentally, emotionally, physically and/or physiologically. According to the DSM IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression with seasonal patterns. Meaning, during a specific time of the year fall and winter typically, one may exhibit symptoms of major depression but when spring rolls around, the symptoms go into remission.
This time last year I found myself unhappy with my life and unsure how to fix it. I decided to go to counseling and I am not ashamed to say that I have. I was able to speak with someone that helped me sort out my thoughts, dig deeper as to why I was feeling the way I was feeling and learn how to think about certain things differently. As you can see, there were so many benefits that I gained from getting professional help and I want the same for people like me. I am not saying that I was diagnosed with SAD (I presumed that I did) and I am not saying that just because you may from time to time experience any of the symptoms of major depression or SAD that you have the disorder. So before I continue, I want to make it clear what I want you all to gain from this article. I want people to gain the basic knowledge of the disorder, know the symptoms or signs and seek help if necessary.
If you think you suffer from SAD but think counseling isn’t for you, it is okay. Per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), treating SAD has various other treatment options such as medication, light therapy and taking vitamin D (although vitamin D supplements alone aren't necessarily linked to treating one with SAD). Other studies have stated that talk therapy (professional or nonprofessional) has been effective for people who suffer from SAD as well as focusing on general health and wellness. Many studies have found various ways to treat SAD but know not all methods may work for everyone. It is all up to what a licensed professional recommends and/or what you think works for you, you just have to listen to your body.
Now before jumping the gun, you should know the common signs of SAD. Psychiatry.org list SAD common symptoms as fatigue even with too much sleep, weight gain with overeating (carbohydrate cravings) along with similar symptoms to major depression (feeling of sadness, loss interest of activities you once found interest, change in sleep, loss of energy, feeling worthless and the list goes on). You have the basic background of SAD, the symptoms and some of the recommended treatments so from here continue to educate yourself on the disorder and get help if you or someone you know is suffering from SAD.