Coping with Seasonal Depression

Woman with red hair staring out a window to a snowy yard, coping with seasonal depression.

In winter, the sun sets earlier, there are fewer sunny days, and the temperatures drop significantly. These conditions may leave many people feeling a little down. But  for some, the winter months bring with them an overwhelming sense of despair to the point of interfering with their daily functioning. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a diagnosable mental condition that affects about 5 percent of adults in the United States.

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Changes in appetite leading to weight loss or gain
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Increased anxiety

Who is most affected by SAD?

Some people are more prone to seasonal depression than others. Young adult females tend to experience seasonal depression at rates higher than other demographics, but anyone can be affected by seasonal depression. People that live further from the equator with more drastic seasonal changes also have much higher occurrence rates of seasonal depression. Additionally, having a history of depression can increase the likelihood of suffering more depressive symptoms during the winter months.

The symptoms of seasonal depression are not “in your head”. The changing of seasons throws off the circadian rhythm and disrupts the balance of your hormones and chemicals in the brain.

Ways to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

Because seasonal depression has been linked to fewer hours of daylight, it may be helpful to increase exposure to artificial light and take vitamin D supplements. Using a light box can help simulate sunlight exposure and may help to improve mood and boost energy. Seasonal depression can be exacerbated by factors like stressors and your perception of yourself, others, and the future. Thus, talk therapy can be especially powerful for managing the symptoms of seasonal depression.

Great Lakes Psychology Group’s network of therapists can help you manage the seasonal symptoms of depression and can help you cope with depression, regardless of the season. Great Lakes Psychology Group offers conveniently located offices with appointment times that work around your schedule in a welcoming and confidential setting, as well as online therapy.

Take the first step toward a brighter life. Schedule an appointment today.