There’s no doubt about it: The days are getting shorter and colder. For those of us that live away from the Equator, the winter season is here. This time of year can be stressful for many reasons — inclement weather and cold mornings can make your daily commute unpleasant, holiday parties and shopping can leave you feeling drained, and having to bundle up more to do simple outdoor activities can be an obstacle to getting outside and exercising. But some people have an added burden: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
As its acronym suggests, SAD is a type of depression that affects people during the winter. Anyone can get it, but it’s more common in people who live in areas where winter days are very short or where there are significant changes in the amount of daylight in the different seasons. It’s also more common in women and in people who have a close relative with SAD. Younger people are more likely to get SAD — there is increased risk between the ages of 15 and 55, and the risk of experiencing SAD for the first time decreases as you get older.
Symptoms for SAD are similar to those for other types of depression and can include:
- Losing interest in your usual activities
- Eating more and craving carbohydrates, like bread or pasta
- Gaining weight
- Feeling sad, irritable, moody, or anxious
- Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the daytime
If you’re feeling this way, don’t feel that you have to tough it out alone. Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. SAD may seem insurmountable, but a variety of easy and effective treatments are available.