Seasonal affective disorder, appropriately known as SAD, is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that begins and ends at the same time each year, most typically in fall and winter, according to Mental Health America (MHA). It’s estimated that half a million Americans experience SAD – feeling depressed, irritable, and tired as the seasons change and the daylight shortens. This depression disorder not only affects your overall health, but it also impacts everyday life, including job performance, social activities, and hobbies.
People who abuse drugs or alcohol are highly susceptible to SAD – and, in fact, more than 20 percent of patients with any mood disorder are also living with a substance use disorder, notes the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Here are a few more facts you need to know about SAD:
1. Between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women. And if you’re a female between age 15 and 55, you're even more likely to develop the mood disorder.
2. Certain symptoms are more common in SAD than in other forms of depression. These include:
- Carbohydrate craving
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sleepiness
- Weight gain
3. SAD isn’t caused by a drop in temperature. Rather, many experts link the disorder to a decreased exposure to sunlight. This is because sunlight plays a role in the production of a body chemical called melatonin, which regulates sleep and mood.
4. Seasonal affective disorder is more than the holiday or winter blues. To be diagnosed with SAD, symptoms needs to lasts more than two weeks at least two years in a row. In addition, the SAD episodes must outnumber the non-seasonal depressive episodes in one’s lifetime.
5. Waiting it out doesn’t work. Light therapy, where people are exposed to artificial lights for a certain amount of time each day, has been shown to work in 50 to 80 percent of patients. Also, since seasonal depression has a predictable pattern of recurrence, preventative measures may help to reduce symptoms. These include:
- Exercising 30 minutes a day
- Increasing the amount of light at home
- Stress management techniques, including meditation
- Writing in a journal
- Spending more time outside
- Loading up on Vitamin D
Women, Depression, and Addiction
Are you suffering from SAD and addiction? At AJ’s Amethyst House, we realize the special needs of female clients and take into account mental illnesses when treating our clients. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.