Seasonal Depression: There are some differences between depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While depression can occur at any point in a person’s life, seasonal affective disorder occurs during the gloomier months of the year, typically the Fall and Winter months. During these times, days are shorter, and the sky remains grayscale, with less sunlight.
Both forms of depression can result in profound and reoccurring feelings of dysphoria, sadness, and lack of hope. The critical difference between the two conditions is that seasonal affective disorder is consistent with seasonal changes only. Although seasonal affective disorder can be unpleasant, it can be effectively treated for symptom reduction and management.
Below, we discuss the general criteria for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to help you identify if professional help may be needed. Consider the following information and see if you identify with any of the following symptoms. If so, be sure to reach out to a trained medical professional who can determine whether seasonal depression may be something you’re dealing with.
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Main Contributors to Seasonal depression
One of the triggers of SAD is reduced sunlight. Lack of sufficient sunlight can result in a manifestation of biological and psychological symptoms that reflect depression. Environmental factors also shape these outcomes, contributing to SAD symptoms. Behavioral symptoms may also occur in response to these symptom onsets.
Some of the main identifying symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:
- sleeping too much
- reduced energy levels
- chronic feelings of sadness
- lack of interest in activities
- negative feelings that interfere with daily tasks
Biological Factors Of SAD
The biological factors of seasonal depression are not entirely understood, but it is proposed that the condition is associated with reduced sunlight exposure during the fall and winter. These changes in sunlight can disrupt the body’s internal timing (circadian rhythm). For some people, a lack of the sun can cause chemical imbalances that impact mood.
Psychological Symptoms Of SAD
Experiencing consistent, negative thought patterns is another factor of seasonal depression, and some of these thoughts may be directed at the seasonal changes. However, depression as a general disorder can bring about negative thoughts from various aspects of life. Although persons with SAD may experience negative thoughts about more than changes in the season, they may not fall under the criteria for clinical depression. Diagnosis is unique to the individual; it is also possible to have both SAD and clinical depression.
Behavioral Symptoms Of SAD
Physical aches and pain, weight gain, and fatigue are additional symptoms that may occur from seasonal depression. Difficulty concentrating and irritability may also occur. If you notice you’re isolating yourself, engaging in technology more than usual, or having relationship difficulties, you may be struggling with SAD.
Getting Professional Help To Reduce Your Symptoms
If you are struggling with seasonal depression, reach out to a trained mental health counselor for an official diagnosis and the next steps for treatment. With coping tools and consistency, you can learn to manage your seasonal affective disorder and reduce your symptoms of depression as seasons change.