It sees like everyone is having a rough time lately. More bad days than good. A big portion of our online community have been taking days off from streaming, taking breaks from social media, and just keeping to themselves. I can’t say that I feel much different.. My smile and “happiness” has been fake, more times than real.
Winter is always a hard time for me. Christmas time, especially. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas.. It’s actually my favorite holiday.. but this time of year is rough. I feel like Winter is a rough time for a lot of people. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and it is in full swing this year. I feel like adding Covid on top of that makes it 100xs worse.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
It’s estimated that 10 million Americans are affected by SAD each year. Another 10-20% may have mild symptoms. Seasonal Affective Disorder is four times more common in women, than in men.
Why? Why do we get so down during the Winter months?
According to Mayo Clinic:
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
While the cause is unknown, there are a few risk-factors.
Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:
- Family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.
- Having major depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
- Living far from the equator. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.
If you think that you are just dealing with “Winter Blues”, make sure it’s not something more serious, such as SAD. Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
I try to think back to my life in Florida, wondering if I dealt with SAD while I lived there. And, honestly, I can’t really remember. I don’t remember much of my childhood, and I was high most of my adult life there. I sometimes wonder if my drug addiction caused some sort of re-wiring in my brain to make me more apt to deal with SAD, but after some research, I found that your symptoms my be milder in tropical-esque environments. Florida doesn’t necessarily have a Fall/Winter, so symptoms may be less severe. However, on the flip-side, there is a side of Seasonal Affective Disorder that occurs in the Spring/Summer. The symptoms for Summer SAD are complete opposites of Fall SAD.
Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
I have also read that people who suffer from Bipolar may be more severely affected by SAD. Maybe that is why I am struggling so much the last few years? We still don’t have a for sure diagnosis, so I’m not sure if that’s the case. I go to the psychiatrist tomorrow. My therapist recommended that I go see their doctor, rather than just my family doctor, so hopefully they can get me on the right meds for whatever it is that I have. The Seroquel hasn’t been working like it should lately. We’ll see what she says tomorrow.
NestMaven also has a great article on Seasonal Affective Disorder, if you would like to read that, as well.
**Side Note: Sorry it’s been over a month since my last post, but I’ve just been trying to get through the days. If you are dealing with anything, and need someone to talk to, feel free to message me!**
Just remember, you are important, you matter, and you are loved!!!