Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

Fall-Back Can Make You Feel SAD

Girl Walking Alone on Gravel Road in Autumn
Gloomy Fall Afternoon. bradbutcher / Getty Images

Fall and winter are the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) seasons. During these months of the year depressing thoughts can overwhelm us due to darker days. It is especially difficult to experience sadness or depression when we are expected to be and act jovial amidst holiday activities. Winter months are especially notorious for their gloomy gray skies, cold drizzling rainfall, and occasional dismal snowfall.

Fall-Back Into SADness

The SAD season births its symptomatic depressive moods upon us generally around the same time when we turn our clocks back from standard to daylight savings time. The fall-back one hour change results in shorter daylight hours. For those of us who depend on sunshine to brighten our moods, the shortened daylight makes us feel SAD, and are likely to continually feel even SADder as the season progresses. SAD hovers above our heads, its emotional clouds filled with feelings of depression, melancholy, and anxiety, as we do our best to muddle through each darkened day.

A single day with overcast skies is a great excuse to crawl under a blanket and stick your nose into a good book or veg out on the couch and watch an old movie. But, day after day of light deprivation can be harmful, it can make a person feel cranky, lethargic, and despondent.

SAD Symptoms

  1. Change in Sleep Patterns
    1. You oversleep but don't wake up feeling refreshed
    2. Cannot or reluctantly get out of bed
    3. Require afternoon naps
  2. Depression
    1. Feelings of despair, misery, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, etc.
    2. Normal tasks become frustratingly difficult
    3. Withdrawal from friends and family
    4. Avoiding company
    5. Crankiness or irritability
    6. Lack of feeling/emotion
    7. Constant state of sadness
  3. Lethargy
    1. Decreased energy
    2. Everything becomes an effort
    3. Decreased productivity
  4. Physical Ailments
    1. Joint pain
    2. Stomach problems
    3. Lowered resistance to infection
    4. Weight gain
    5. Premenstrual syndrome (worsens or only occurs in winter)
  5. Behavioral Problems
    1. Appetite changes (usually increased appetite)
    2. Carbohydrate craving
    3. Loss of interest in sex
    4. Difficulty concentrating
    5. Not being able to accomplish tasks

Winter Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called Winter Depression, affects approximately 10 million people in the United States alone. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from this disorder. People who live in colder climates have a higher incidence of SAD than those who live in warm, sunny locations. It has also been documented that suicide rates are higher in places of increased light deprivation.

SAD Prevention and Remedies

  • Low fat diet, without too much protein
  • Daily vitamin with magnesium, B complex, and minerals
  • Elimination of caffeine
  • Stress management
  • Elimination of refined sugars and flours
  • Walking or aerobic exercise
  • Saint John's Wort
  • Mustard Flower Essences
  • Herbal remedies
  • Spending 30 minutes each day in the fresh air (in the sunlight if the weather permits, don't forget sunscreen!)
  • Light therapy (light, whether it is natural or artificial, is essential in your life)

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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Desy, Phylameana lila. "Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Desy, Phylameana lila. (2020, August 26). Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment. Retrieved from Desy, Phylameana lila. "Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment." Learn Religions. (accessed January 23, 2021).