Seasonal Depression by Rachael Metzger, Clinical Intern
The last few months of the year are filled with a myriad of joyous events: holidays, family gatherings, breaks from school and/or work, and many more. When the clocks fall back during daylight savings, this festive time of year is upon us, but we also know what happens next – it gets darker earlier. Waking up early becomes harder, being motivated to keep the day going when getting home from work or school becomes more grueling, and we just want to SLEEP.
While these feelings are natural human reactions to this time of year, if you are noticing increased amounts of these feelings, you may be struggling with seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal depression is defined as a bout of depression that occurs at the same time every year. While the onset of spring can trigger this depression, darker climates and colder temperatures are the most common contributors to this disorder. Key symptoms of seasonal depression include feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, increased desire to isolate, and sleep disturbances. Certain risk factors that may make an individual more prone to seasonal depression are a family history of mental health issues, having major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, living far from the equator, or having low levels of vitamin D. While these signs and symptoms may sound a bit scary, there are various types of therapeutic treatment methods that can be used to help reduce feelings of seasonal depression. Light therapy incorporates a light box, where the individual receiving treatment sits by the light box in order to be exposed to a brighter light upon the first hour or so of waking up each day. Traditional psychotherapy, or talk therapy, involves talking with a therapist about what you are feeling and learning healthy ways to cope with these feelings. Additionally, medication is an option, especially for more severe symptoms.
As we progress further into the winter, remember that if you are experiencing signs and symptoms of seasonal depression, you are not alone as it is estimated that three million people are affected by it each year. We can help you manage your seasonal depression here at Owens Counseling. Give us a call at (847) 854-4333 for a free 15-minute consultation.