Spring is here! Well…judging from the frenzied blizzard outside of my window, that fact is debatable.
Nevertheless! It is the start of a new season and with new seasons, come new changes. Scary as they might be, we are always changing, the dynamics of our lives unfolding in many different ways. Some of us have leftover New Years Eve goals that we are still…*cough*…working on, while others are setting new goals specific to the return of the warmer weather (if it ever comes). But for some of us, we tend to find ourselves stuck…especially in the changing of the seasons. For some, the winter months are the hardest of all to get through…and not just because of the shorter, darker days and colder weather. Oftentimes, the winter months bring with them an increase in depression and anxiety symptoms. Can you relate? If so, you are not alone. Working as a mental healthcare professional, I have learned that this condition isn’t all that uncommon.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD (see what they did there?), is a type of depression that has a pattern of beginning and ending during the same times each year. For most people that experience this type of depression, it occurs during the winter months. However, for some, this depression tends to strike during the spring and summer months. According to The Mayo Clinic, there are over 3 million cases of SAD per year, with the bulk of cases affecting individuals 14-60+ years old and the majority of cases being women (4 out of 5 cases). That’s a lot of people. And many individuals do not seek help right away. This is because sometimes the symptoms can be easy to overlook, or are pushed aside as something less significant than what they actually are. Some of the common symptoms of SAD are:
- Mood swings
- Sleep Difficulties
- Changes in eating (overeating or loss of appetite)
- Anxiety or difficulty coping with stressors
- Changes in social behaviors, like being unable or disinterested in socializing
- Sadness, depression, irritabiility, hopelessness or apathy
- Sexual changes such as decrease or increase in libido, decreased sensitivity or inability to become aroused or climax.
Do any of these symptoms feel familiar to you? If so, it may be a good time to consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Although SAD is triggered by changes in the season, and exacerbated by decreased sunlight (which affects our serotonin), and changes in melatonin (which interrupts our internal clock and sleep rhythm); there are treatments that can be very helpful in turning things around and getting you back on track. With spring season finally making an appearance, now may be a good time to give yourself a fresh start at tackling some of your symptoms. Therapy can, not only help you address these symptoms appropriately, but will also arm you with the lifelong tools needed to help you maintain longterm wellness and effectively manage any depressive episodes along the way. So, what do you say? Let’s kick this season off right and get you started on a new path. You, dear reader, are deserving of a good life as much as anyone else, and are absolutely worth the investment.
Take the best of care ,