December is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Awareness Month. In case you’ve never heard of this very common but under reported issue it is known as winter depression or winter blues but can also be known as summer depression or blues. It affects many people who function normally throughout the rest of the year and during other seasons, but moods tend to change drastically during a specific season, many are affected in the winter months. This is due to the lack of sunshine, shorter days, and cold. SAD Symptoms include sleeping more, lack of energy, and a state of depression. SAD was initially described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal (Author, Psychiatrist, and Scientist) along with colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Those affected by SAD may not realize this is the cause. I mean winter time can be very challenging with everything going on and all of the imperative ‘To Do’ lists prior to the holidays; and then you have the expectations of the New Year as well riding on your shoulders. Add being a single parent to the mix with many demands and expectations of your children. Many attribute the stress, sad mood, and feeling drained to these events and heightened responsibilities. Yet there is proof that some people do experience a severe change in mood simply when the seasons change.
If after the stress of the holidays you still feel blue keep in mind there are some treatments that could help if you feel you are plagued by SAD. Naturally seeing a doctor and describing your symptoms is the best place to start. Here are other things you can try once diagnosed:
- Light Therapy or Phototherapy which consists of exposure to daylight or specific wavelengths of light using fluorescent lamps (most popularly), for prescribed amounts of time and specified times of day.
- Antidepressant medication prescribed by your physician.
- Timed administration of the hormone Melatonin which also helps with sleep disorders. This is a natural over the counter medication but contact your doctor for specific dosages and usage.
- Keeping yourself motivated and busy doing things that make you feel useful and special.
Remember if you are affected by this disorder know that you are not alone. Once you have been diagnosed and know the cause and time of year the symptoms normally appear; make sure you prepare yourself going forward to prevent the onset of sudden and severe symptoms.