College of DuPage Nursing Student AndreaOjeda shared with Healthy Lombard that there are many things to enjoy during the fall and winter seasons. For example; you can enjoy watching the trees change color, have a fun hayride with the family, watch the first snowfall, and enjoy the holidays by spending time with family and friends.
But if this is true, why do I feel so out of it?…why don’t I feel more motivated to enjoy this time of the year?
Unfortunately, for many individuals, during the fall and winter seasons, a phenomenon is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD often occurs. You may be thinking; ‘funny right’? But as the leaves change color and the snow falls, so does our mood and ability to stay motivated oftentimes, making even simple activities, difficult. This may be enough to seriously impact our daily lives.
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is when depression occurs during seasonal changes and has a beginning and an end-time period. For the most part, it is seen during the fall and winter months but some people may experience it in summer. Unlike depression, which is one year long, SAD only occurs during these specific time frames and is then is finished. This is what distinguishes it from actual depression but it is important to recognize that someone who has this because if not taken care of, it can lead to depression.
So how can you recognize when you or someone has SAD? At the beginning of the season, a decrease in your mood and overall energy level is common. This may then to a loss of interest in activities that you enjoy, difficulty concentrating, oversleeping, and weight gain. In the most severe cases, some may have thoughts of worthlessness or suicide. All of these symptoms make it really hard to enjoy the things we like and prevent us from getting things done. Typically, towards the end of the season, a gradual improvement of mood and motivation occurs. If symptoms of SAD occur on a regular basis, however, or seriously affect the ability to carry out simple activities, then it may be important to visit a doctor to stop the progression and get back to a feeling of baseline health.
So how does one prevent SAD from developing? First, take care of yourself by getting enough sleep. Next; make healthy meal choices which is a bit hard considering the upcoming holidays. Managing stress using good coping methods and participating in regular physical activity also is beneficial to prevent symptoms. Socializing can also make these next few months less dreary by spending time with family and friends who make things fun. Remember, if you have talked to a doctor about a treatment plan then it is important that you stick to it as it will also help you in dealing with this disorder. It may seem hard at first but when you put the effort then it will make the next few months easier to deal with and not seem so blue.