S.A.D. is more than just the “Winter blues”

Do you tend to experience symptoms of depression during the autumn and winter? Is this a pattern that you have noticed each year?  There is a type of depression which is known as Season Affective Disorder or SAD which tends to occur during the winter months.

Unlike the “Winter blues” which is fairly common, SAD is rare and the effects of it can be debilitating for those experiencing this type of depression.  The exact cause is not known but It is believed to be associated with the reduction in the amount to light  during the colder months of the year.  In addition, winter is often a time when we are also less active and spending more time indoors.  This type of depression is considered to be unusual in Australia compared to countries which experience days with very little sunlight and long periods of darkness.

Many of the symptoms of SAD are very similar to depression and include a change in the following; length of sleep, social activity, mood, weight, appetite and energy levels. Unfortunately, it can take a while to be diagnosed with this type of depression as a person needs to notice a pattern.  To be diagnosed with SAD, an individual must experience depression in the winter months at least two years in a row.

Just like other types of depression there are multiple treatment options available.  SAD can be treated with a combination of light exposure, psychological treatment and sometimes medication, if required.   Other things that may help improve mood include; ahealthy diet, developing an exercise routine for the winter months and trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule.Edit