For most of us, the holidays are an exciting time of year when we relax and have fun with loved ones. While many enjoy the holidays, they can also be a time of dread, darkness, or depression. Rather than chalking up these emotions to “holiday blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder could be the cause.
Definition of SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition where a person exhibits depressive symptoms during certain times of the year. It usually begins at the start of autumn and continues into the winter months. In rare cases, SAD can occur during the spring and summer.
Signs and Symptoms
Since this condition is a type of depression, sufferers may experience the following:
- Feeling depressed throughout the day or on most days
- Lack of interest in things usually enjoyed
- Change in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or not sleeping enough)
- Low or no energy
- Problems concentrating
- Sudden change in eating patterns
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Since depression is different for most people, there are several contributing factors. Causes may be environmental, biological or situational. During the colder months, the lack of Vitamin D (due to reduced levels of sunlight) can trigger symptoms of depression. Serotonin (an important mood stabilizer) might also be reduced in the body. You may also feel sadness or depression because of past experiences and memories.
While some might interpret the symptoms of SAD to be “the blues” and be disinclined to seek treatment, it can develop into a serious condition. SAD may occur during the start of certain seasons but it does not simply fade away. Instead, the symptoms may “hibernate” until the season returns.
What to Do
First, remember that feeling low during certain times of the year is fairly common, depending upon your circumstances. Next, there are certain steps you can take to manage your symptoms. One of the best things you can do is seek help from a professional therapist. They’ll formulate a treatment plan to help you combat negativity, guilt, and sadness.
If you suspect that you may exhibit symptoms of SAD or are experiencing depression during the holidays, York Region Psychological Services can provide psychological assessments and counselling to help you through the struggle. Please call us at (416) 602-3230 or contact us through a form here.