December is a time of celebration for many, but it is also when Winter really starts to set in and that is when Seasonal Affective Disorder comes into play.  

According to the National Institute of Mental Health SAD starts in the late Fall and early Winter.  

SAD is a type of depression characterized by a recurrent seasonal pattern, with symptoms lasting about 4−5 months out of the year. The signs and symptoms of SAD include those associated with depression as well as disorder-specific symptoms that differ for winter-pattern versus summer-pattern SAD.”—NIMH 

So, people have to deal with this for a few months out of the year, and with holiday stress added on, it can be pretty tough.   

Some of the symptoms include: 

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks 
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism 
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities 
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling slowed down 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions 
  • Changes in sleep or appetite or unplanned weight changes 
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not have a clear physical cause and do not go away with treatment 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts 

SAD Winter symptoms are: 

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia) 
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates, leading to weight gain 
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”) 

A few ways to treat SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressants, and Vitamin D. If you know someone who has the symptoms reach out to local help centers.  


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