Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The winter season can be hard on us all. The colder temperatures, wicked winter weather and less sunlight all work together to make us dream of warmer summer days. While the winter may have you looking forward to the spring and summer, it can also make you feel more sad or down at this point in the year.

While it is common to experience occasional bouts of sadness or symptoms of depression during the winter, there is actually a diagnosable condition called seasonal affective disorder that affects up to 20% of the population during the winter season.

Our AFC Urgent Care Gastonia team explains what SAD entails below, so read on!

Where Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Come From?

As the fall and winter seasons progress, there is less natural daylight since the sun is not out as long and the rays aren’t as strong. Because of this, coupled with the cold temperatures, most of us aren’t getting any exposure to the sun in our daily lives.

We all know that sun exposure is crucial to your vitamin D levels, but it is actually important in controlling your melatonin production. When you don’t receive any sun exposure, your body starts to overproduce melatonin. An excess of melatonin in your body can start to produce symptoms similar to depression, like having trouble doing daily tasks or losing joy in the things you once loved to do.

Indications of SAD

  • Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of guilt

Can I Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Thankfully, your symptoms due to SAD tend to lift as the weather changes and the sunlight comes back in the spring and summer. While you wait for the change to come, there are a few things you can do. One of the great ways to combat your feelings is to invest in a light box!

Light boxes mimic natural light and it can trick your brain into believing you are enjoying some sunshine. While this may help reduce your symptoms, it is important to keep an eye on any more severe symptoms that indicate depression. Depression is serious, and if you are having trouble with your symptoms, it is crucial to confide in someone and seek medical support.

Additional Ways to Combat SAD

  • Stand in the sun more often, bundled up if needed.
  • Discover a new hobby to keep you engaged.
  • Practice more self-care, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Visit with a doctor if your symptoms start to affect your everyday life.

Does winter make you feel down? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Gastonia to visit with our care team.