If you’re prone to feeling down during the wintertime, you’re not alone. Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by the change in seasons, and it affects between 4% and 6% of people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Although most people with seasonal depression are affected primarily in the winter months, some cases can occur during the spring and summer.

There are many theories about what leads some people to develop SAD, although experts have yet to pinpoint a cause. Some experts believe that seasonal changes disrupt the circadian rhythm. Others think that hormones that regulate sleep and mood, such as melatonin and serotonin, are disrupted by the changing seasons.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Symptoms of SAD can start mild and progress later in the season. Signs and symptoms of seasonal depression may include:

  • Low energy

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Having problems with sleeping

  • Changes in appetite

  • Drastic changes in weight

  • Becoming easily agitated

  • Difficulty concentrating

It’s normal to have days when you feel less energetic and moody, but if you feel depressed for days at a time and unmotivated to do all the things you usually enjoy, it may be time to seek help, especially if you find yourself turning to alcohol or recreational drugs to make yourself feel better, or if you’re having suicidal thoughts.

Treatment options for seasonal depression

Many people use light therapy for seasonal depression. Light therapy boxes give off light that imitates natural sunlight. Typically used in the morning, the light from the boxes stimulates the body’s circadian rhythms and suppresses the natural release of melatonin.

A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Affective Disorders stated that although people tend to utilize light therapy throughout the entire winter season, one or two weeks may be enough to decrease symptoms.

Talk therapy is another treatment option, as it helps identify negative behaviors and encourages you to learn healthy coping mechanisms and techniques for managing stress.

Some treatments don’t require a professional’s help, such as spending as much time as you can outside when the weather is nice. Making sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep is also essential, and be aware that getting too much sleep can be just as bad as getting too little. It’s also a good idea to avoid napping during the day if possible to help regulate your sleep pattern.

If you’re feeling so depressed during the colder months that you’re having trouble functioning as you usually do, contact Serene Health to speak to one of our therapists. Our unique Telehealth app allows you to have a session from your own home or wherever you feel most comfortable.

Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.