LUBBOCK, Texas – With the time set to change on November 5, we will experience fewer hours of daylight as the sun sets earlier. Many find themselves feeling sad with this change and may not know it is actually called seasonal depression.
Dr. Logan Winkelman, an assistant professor with Texas Tech University’s Health Science Center Department of Clinical Counseling and Mental Health told EverythingLubbock.com about seasonal depression, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) on Monday.
“SAD is a type of depression that occurs during certain seasons,” said Dr. Winkelman.
Changes in the times when the sun sets earlier is believed to be the cause of SAD. Dr. Winkelman said the time change “disrupts the body’s internal clock and affects the production of certain neurotransmitters.”
Symptoms of seasonal depression may vary based on the person but include low mood, lack of energy, increased sleepiness and changes in appetite, Dr. Winkelman said.
Dr. Winkelman said more common symptoms of SAD can involve “feelings of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, irritability, difficulty concentrating and social withdrawal.”
Seasonal depression can also occur in the spring and summer months. This instance is known as reverse seasonal affective disorder.
Dr. Winkelman said it “is believed to be caused by disrupted sleep patterns increased sensitivity to changes in light and fluctuations in serotonin levels.”
Those who have seasonal depression can manage and overcome it with proper treatment. SAD treatment does not have to involve medicine, it could be as easy as a change in your daily routine.
Dr. Winkelman suggests that “setting realistic goals and maintaining a structured daily routine can provide a sense of purpose and control, which can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with this condition.”
Exercising regularly to release endorphins, spending time outdoors, maintaining a healthy diet, getting sufficient sleep and seeking support from friends and family are a few ways someone can alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression Dr. Winkelman said.
“One option is to ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or other healthcare providers,” said Dr. Winkelman. “Alternatively, you can contact your insurance provider to obtain a list of covered mental health professionals in your area.”
Those who are experiencing SAD can seek professional treatment. Dr. Winkleman said therapy, medication and light therapy that mimics natural outdoor light are a few options available to help with seasonal depression.