Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the Sun Sets, the Sadness Rises

Couple more hours ’till 7pm… The sun approaches 5pm and your sadness is thriving. You scratch your head wondering why this repeats year after year. You hate the darkness; it makes the day feel shorter. A shorter day means less time to have fun. Less fun means more isolation. More isolation attracts sadness. Feeling sad means you’re in a rotten state of mind again. And the pattern only continues as fall progresses into winter. Once winter arrives, you pray that you can see spring again; or at least people with seasonal affective disorder do.

The key to avoiding sadness is learning how to be positive regardless of changes in your environment. You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over your mind. It’s when you lose control of your mind that you become most susceptible to outside forces. And when this happens, you become an easy target. In this case, time is the outside force. As fall approaches, it gets darker out earlier in the evening. When winter arrives, 4:20pm becomes your last hit before the darkness settles in at 5pm.

So What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a depressive disorder that causes people to become sad during seasons with shorter daylight hours. In addition, less sunlight during the winter months also contributes to symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, etc. The most common months to experience SAD are January and February. Other symptoms may include:

  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Hypersomnia
  • Loss of energy
  • Pacing and the inability to sit still
  • Feeling worthless
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts

The disorder usually starts between the ages of 18 and 30. Treatment involves light therapy, antidepressants and/or psychotherapy. SAD goes away during spring and summer, but therapy and medications help alleviate the symptoms sooner. Seasonal affective disorder occurs due to a biochemical imbalance in your brain, believed to be caused by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight. It’s unknown why some people experience SAD and others do not. It definitely does not help if you live in a location that lacks sufficient sunny days during the year.

What is your experience with SAD? If any, what have you found to be helpful?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

4 Replies to “Seasonal Affective Disorder”

  1. They say that our strongest muscle and worst enemy is the mind, and because of that… we need to train it well.

    My mind is not well trained, and is probably like one of those little yappy-type dogs…

    Sometimes the only thing someone like me can do is either slow it down with meds or distract it.

    I do like what you write though.

    For me personally, SAD is yet another disorder that decides to come join the party along with the rest of my disorders, at this time of year.

    And my brain just says now….: “yeah whatever…the more the merrier!!!”

    Any positive thoughts get squashed into oblivion, and we go straight to sarcasm, apathy and dark humour!

    Ya know that bit on Crocodile Dundee where he looks at that guy with a tiny knife and says: “that’s notta knife, THIS is a knife”….?!

    YUP!!

    The darkness is not all bad. You just have to embrace it. Get all cozy with it.

    Afterall how would we appreciate the beauty of the stars if it wasn’t for the darkness?

    1. Dr. Alexander – New York City Area – Dr. Alexander, a psychiatry resident in the New York City area is the founder of The DSM Ready Movement: an international community which focuses on bringing people together to achieve a happier and healthier state of mind. DSM Ready has three goals: 1) End mental health stigma and normalize mental health 2) Provide a safe and nonjudgmental place to share thoughts, feelings and advice about mental health 3) Maximize happiness and well-being 😎 Dr. Alexander can be reached on: dsmready.com linkedin.com/in/psychheals/
      Dr. Sinu MD says:

      That is true I suppose! Very nice analogy using the stars

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