Seasonal Affective Disorder


When the long, winter months arrive, people usually assume it is “the most wonderful time of the year.” With holiday festivities going on that include colorful house lights, Winter Break, Thanksgiving Break, and beautiful snow, it’s sometimes hard to understand why someone would be sad or even depressed during this time of the year.

Unfortunately, depression during the winter months is more common than any other time of the year. Commonly known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a disorder in which the lack of sunlight in the winter time disrupts the body’s internal clock which causes a drop in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that is said to bring mood stability and happiness; when there is an imbalance, it can leave to gloomy feelings or, in more severe cases, depression.

Depression is a physical condition that can affect someone even if the circumstances are not the “ideal” conditions that people would expect. Someone could have anything he or she could ever want, such as a happy family or financial stability, yet still suffer from this disorder. It is not a feeling that someone can control and turn on or off in appropriate situations. It is important to be understanding with people who suffer from depression. They are often viewed as selfish or inconsiderate as so many people may give them support and love, yet they still feel like never leaving the house or talking to anyone. They cannot control this even though they wish they could.

However, there are ways to try to treat this disorder. Depending on the affected person, some treatment methods make work better than others. Treatment methods include therapy, medication, light therapy, and group therapy.

Therapy is a one-on-one meeting with an educated psychologist who specializes in treating this type of disorder. In the meeting, you may discuss what you feel and when and the doctor will give you different strategies to apply to your everyday life to see what works.

Medication involves the prescription of antidepressants. There are many different types of antidepressants that a doctor can prescribe you. It is important to watch for sudden mood swings after being prescribed an antidepressant as some can have adverse reactions and worsen the condition. No need to worry, however, there are plenty to test to see which one works for you.

Light therapy is a relatively new treatment involving the use of artificial sunlight from a light box which is said to make the brain naturally produce more serotonin. Different doctors have varying opinions on the effectiveness of this therapy, which is why it’s important to only spend the money on one if a doctor insists.

Group therapy includes a group of patients suffering from the same disorder. Relating to others who feel the same and sharing what works and what doesn’t has proven to be very helpful for some people.

If you feel as if you may be suffering from SAD, please tell someone. There is nothing to be embarrassed or worried about. This disorder is very common and can be treated if it is diagnosed. Let a parent or friend know and allow them to help you. Remember, these feelings are only temporary and they are very fixable.