Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is estimated to affect 11 million people in the United States every year. Women are four times more likely to suffer from SAD than men. Children also have a higher prevalence to SAD than men. It tends to run in families, though and as a person ages, their risk of developing the condition increases. People in the northern geographical region are eight times more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder than those living in the southern part of the country.
What is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that is characterized by depressive symptoms that are significant or severe. These symptoms will appear with the onset of the winter season, or more specifically, when the days become shorter during the winter months. It is because of this that SAD is often referred to as the “winter blues” or “winter depression.” The official diagnosis for SAD is Major Depressive Disorder with a seasonal pattern.
While SAD was only recently recognized as a disorder (in the early 1980’s), doctors and patients have been aware of this condition for more than 150 years.
Symptoms of Sad
The symptoms for seasonal affective disorder are very similar to the symptoms of depression. These include anxiety, sadness, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in favorite activities, lack of focus, inability to concentrate, withdrawal from social activities and irritability. The difference between symptoms of SAD and symptoms of depression is that the symptoms of sad appear in late fall and continue through winter and disappearing in the spring. While people suffering from depression tend to have sleep problems, people with SAD usually sleep more, somewhere around 2.5 hours more, during the winter months than during the summer months.
There are several treatments for seasonal affective disorder. Light therapy is a very popular treatment for SAD. A patient using light therapy will keep special lights on during key times of the day, reducing the production of melatonin, which is believed to be a factor in the condition. Medication is also often used to alleviate symptoms. Finally, psychotherapy is commonly used to help patients who are suffering from SAD.
Through psychotherapy, patients are encouraged to take and work through their depression. They are given valuable tools to help them manage their condition and feel better. An Irvine therapist can help patients who suffer from SAD and they can help them get to a point where the condition is not as severe or debilitating.
If you are suffering from SAD:
If you suffer from SAD or believe that you do, it is important that you talk to your doctor. You can feel better. A therapist in Irvine, Orange County CA can put you on a treatment plan and help you get back to your life, regardless of the season. It is OK to seek help. You own it to yourself to get help and feel better. Seasonal affective disorder does not have to dominate your life. You can get help and you can get better.