By: Carol Briggs
Carol treats issues related to depression, anxiety, stress management, self-care, career satisfaction, self-esteem, substance use, life stage adjustment, as well as grief and loss. She is especially passionate about helping clients through traumatic loss. Carol enjoys working with clients throughout the lifespan from all backgrounds and identities.
I don’t know about you, but I hate setting our clocks back in the fall. We’ve set our clocks back, and now the sun sets earlier, the wind gets colder, and trees turn bare. Yuck!
If the changing leaves seem to bring changes in your mood, you might be among the 3 million people who experience major depression with a seasonal pattern, better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is an episode of major depression that most commonly presents in late fall or early winter and is alleviated with the onset of spring. SAD is not just a case of the “winter blues”, but involves serious feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, low energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and thoughts of death or suicide. Additional symptoms specific to winter onset SAD include:
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
While the exact cause of SAD is unknown, some things contributing to this pattern of depression may be:
- The decrease in daylight hours throw our internal clocks off. When our biological clocks are disrupted, feelings of depression are more likely.
- A reduction in sunlight leads to less serotonin. Decreased serotonin levels leave us more susceptible to feelings of depression.
- Melatonin levels are impacted by seasonal changes that in turn can affect our sleep and mood.
SAD can run in the family, and if you have a history of depression or bipolar disorder, you are more likely to see symptoms worsen in the winter months. It’s common for everyone to experience low mood or sadness from time to time. When feelings persist or begin to impact work, school, relationships, or health, seeking professional assistance is advised.
I know everything feels much harder when experiencing depression, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
At Owens & Associates, we have a team of clinicians available to help. Call for a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss how we can meet your individual needs and assist in managing the symptoms of depression. 847.854.4333