The cold, gray season is upon us, and though there are festivities and holidays until the first of January, many people begin feeling depressed, anxious and experience a lack of motivation during this time. As it turns out, there is a name to this cyclical epidemic and it is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD and it can start as early as late summer or early fall for some.
It is estimated that half a million Americans are affected by the change of seasons, and it can impact everything from your relationships, your work ethic, your motivation and your mood. Though many people may attribute this to the change of temperature, it could be due to the amount of sunlight we are getting.
There could be many reasons why people start feeling lethargic, a lack of focus and depressed in the winter, and one theory points to the lack of sunlight people expose themselves to during this time. It makes sense – it’s cold outside, we cover up our skin and this could limit the amount of Vitamin D we get.
Another interesting fact is SAD actually affects women more than men – it is estimated between sixty (60) and ninety (90) percent of people who have seasonal affective disorder are women between the ages of fifteen (15) and fifty-five (55).
Note: if you feel you are experiencing some of the symptoms below, please see your doctor. Please do not diagnose yourself based on the contents of this article.
Symptoms of SAD
SAD is a bit different from depression. For example, some four (4) to six (6) percent of people have winter depression, while another ten (10) to twenty (20) percent may have mild seasonal affective disorder. Not surprisingly, the closer you are to the equator the less amount of people are affected – there are fewer people in Florida who are diagnosed with SAD as those in say, Wisconsin. Some of the symptoms include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Can We Treat SAD?
The answer is NO – we at WeDames cannot treat seasonal affective disorder. We are not doctors! We are great and amazing at many things, but treating people is not one of our specialties. But you CAN schedule an appointment with your doctor and see what he or she has to say – it’s what they do. Some of them are actually good at it! I kid Springfield, I kid.
Some of the therapies out there include light therapy, prescription meds and the like but everyone is different and reacts differently to the various treatments. For example, light therapy is a popular form of treatment, but some people experience headaches, eye strain, and migraines from it while others are completely unaffected.
Another solution you could ask your doctor about would be using an Infrared Sauna – not all infrared saunas have light therapy mechanisms within them, but Sunlighten saunas do. The best part? They are nationwide, and their headquarters are located in Kansas City. In Springfield, there are a couple of Spas and health centers which have Infrared Saunas which the public can use, and some have light therapy mechanisms inside. My first recommendation, however, is to call your doctor and see what is best for you.
While many people attribute winter to a cold, dry and barren season, you can take care of your mental and emotional health during this time. You can find hobbies to do, like start a winter garden or make it a point to visit people. It can be difficult, but it can help with your mood.
Wishing you a happy, fulfilling winter!