Seasonal Affective Disorder

Cloudy red sunset

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.

White woman suffering from seasonal affective disorder, standing outside in snow

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)

East Coast Arctic Blast

Man reading a book on sofa chair near Christmas tree

Studying During Cold Weather

Find a cozy corner by the heater, a window to look out of just in case big flaky drops of snow make landfall, a warm cup of caramel coffee and a great book to read from! When cold weather makes an appearance, this becomes the perfect time to start studying and improving your knowledge on a certain topic.

During the summer, the excuse becomes, “it’s too nice out! I can’t focus on these books.” But during fall and into the winter season, the cold weather has some of us hibernating like polar bears. This becomes an amazing time to get warm and cozy while learning new concepts, about whatever it is you would like to learn about.

Utilize the winter time to read as many book as you can! During spring, it becomes too nice out to always stay indoors to read. And during summer . . . well, that’s even harder to read through. If you’re struggling with the motivation to study, then winter time is the perfect opportunity for you to start opening up those books.

Unfortunately, winter time is also when many people develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is when one becomes depressed during winter time only, but the depressive symptoms go away once spring follows. If you are struggling with SAD, this does not mean that you cannot study efficiently!

What it means is that you must see a psychiatrist and get the recommended therapy. In this case, this is usually an antidepressant, psychotherapy and light therapy. But what is missing from this prescription? You guessed it! Reading. Reading keeps your mind active and distracts you from depression.

It’s winter time folks. Whether you have SAD or not, ’tis the season to get your cerebrum fired up on some awesome reading material!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)