It’s bitterly cold, and snow is hitting every few days. Yes, this is something you could call “depressing”; this weather makes one want to hibernate during the winter months like a bear. But what if it’s more than that? What if you find yourself extremely withdrawn, unmotivated, maybe even see a change in your appetite and/or weight? If this sounds like you during the fall and winter months, you may be suffering from the “winter blues” or properly called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is seasonal affective disorder you ask? Season Affective Disorder is characterized by normal mental health throughout the majority of the year, however experiencing depressive symptoms during a single period of the year; most commonly using the winter/fall months. (more rare is SAD during the summer and sprint months)
What can you do to spot symptoms of SAD? Monitor for the following characteristics during the fall/winter months for more than 2 weeks in a row: • Depression • Hopelessness • Anxiety • Loss of energy • Heavy feeling in limbs • Social withdrawal • Oversleeping • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed • Appetite change • Weight gain/loss • Difficulty concentrating
What causes SAD? Recent research shows that SAD develops from inadequate bright light during the winter and fall months. More specifically, bright light changes the chemicals in the brain. More extensive research is being conducted on SAD.
How “real” is SAD? According to American Family Physician, 4-6% of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder and approximately 10-20% more suffers from mild SAD. SAD is 4 times more prevalent in women and SAD normally doesn’t surface until around age 20.
Black Girls Smile Thoughts:
So no, the deep sadness and sense of hopelessness/helplessness during the winter and fall months is not just an intense yearning for the sunny Miami-esk days of summer and blooming flowers of spring; you could potentially be suffering from a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. Don’t get caught up in the word “illness” it can carry such a heaviness, but think of this as an opportunity to enjoy life and be happy all 4 seasons of the year!
For more information pertaining to seasonal affective disorder please see the attached for a one page fact sheet. If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from SAD please see your primary physician and/or a licenses mental health professional.