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Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Andrea October, MSS
Clinical Projects Manager, Health Promotion

The snow is falling and the city is bright. There is a chill in the air and a feeling of joy.  The decorations are hung, gifts secured, and family time is confirmed, yet, feelings of sadness and low energy are looming.  Some feelings of sadness and low energy that you may not be aware of could possibly indicate a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

As the season transitions from summer heat to chilling cold, many experience challenges completing their daily routine.  SAD is often minimized as “the winter blues;” however, it may cause paralyzing effects when unchecked.  The holidays are difficult for many due to external circumstances, such as loss and loneliness.  Differentiating between SAD and normal responses to life changes is crucial.  Self-awareness is beneficial in recognizing atypical functioning.  According to the Mayo Clinic, here are a few symptoms associated with SAD:

  • Feeling depressed nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless/worthless
  • Having issues with sleeping
  • Loss of interest in preferred activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Changes in mood and appetite
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

If these symptoms impact your daily functioning and occur frequently, it is imperative you consider consulting with a trained professional.

In addition to speaking with a trained professional, here are a few homeopathic remedies provided by Everyday health, which may be helpful:

  • Heat lamps to mirror sunlight exposure
  • Oils and aromatherapy
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a daily schedule
  • Journal to process daily feelings
  • Take a vacation
  • Increase Vitamin D, Omega-3, and Melatonin
  • Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness

It is important to act quickly and take steps towards repairing your mental wellness when symptoms of SAD are recognized.  Realize you are not alone and there are options.  Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 support for those in any type of crisis.  If you text, “HOME” to 741741 from anywhere in the United States you will be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Several crisis centers are available throughout Philadelphia, suicide and crisis prevention resources, and a free online self-help tool known as Beating the Blues. Free online behavioral health screenings are also available if you feel unsure about your symptoms.

Please consider acting today to restore your holiday joy and add some warmth to these cold months!

Note: SAD does not only occur during the winter months, and can also occur during spring and summer months.

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