What is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD?

The leaves are already falling, mornings are cooler, and it is dark earlier. That can mean only one thing; Fall and winter are approaching.

Some people are energized by the fall and look forward to winter sports, hot chocolate, and warm evenings by a fire. Others dread the seasons of shorter days and harsh weather. Some may even say it is gloomy and intolerable; that it is downright depressing and puts them in a grumpy mood.

2020 (what a year!) brings with it much more than shorter days, moodiness, and bad weather. We are in the middle of a pandemic with the threat of an even heavier resurgence of COVID 19. As if Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not enough, some of us will be dealing with the high anxiety of a worrisome flu year.

If SAD has already been a part of your life, this flu season and a pandemic may only make things feel worse. The isolation of inclement weather may be accentuated by not being outdoors or with neighbors, friends and family for long stretches of time. Indoor confinement and true social isolation bring about unexpected levels of depression, anger, and anxiety.

There is hope!

You know the season is coming. Preparation will be the key to a SAD strategy. Be proactive! Here are some ideas for a personal attack against SAD:

Journal: Stay connected to your feelings and start now! If you see yourself starting to fade into sadness, make social connections, exercise, or begin a routine of reading motivational books and quotes.

Spend some money: Not on just anything! Consider buying a SAD therapeutic light. Many find this makes a big difference for them.

Get outside: Bundle up and get out there. Maybe someone in your neighborhood could use a walk-buddy! Even putting on warm clothes and sitting outside on your deck could help.

LAUGH: Look for funny movies or YouTube videos that make you laugh. Laughter is a big healer!

Help someone: Make a point of helping someone else who is struggling. Get out of your own thoughts by reaching out. Helping others helps us.

Get help now: Start talking to a therapist who can help you get on top of SAD; before it even really starts. A therapist will be able to help you become more self-aware and support you during the tougher days.

Connect: Many churches are providing virtual meetings and services. It is a great way to learn and grow spiritually. Many church groups also provide shut-in support and support is almost always free to all.

Know the warning signs. Here are some ways you may be able to recognize SAD:

  • More sleeping than usual at many times of the day.
  • Overeating and eating foods that are not usual for you (e.g. sweets and carbs).
  • Disinterest in hobbies.
  • Lack of desire to do much of anything.
  • Frustration over little things; or downright anger.
  • Overall stretches of sadness that are hard to get through.

This pandemic has intensified many psychiatric disorders for many people. You are not alone if you are feeling less well emotionally.

You also have Lake Behavioral Hospital 24/7/365. By walk-in, appointment, or just give us call, your Lake Behavioral Assessment and Referral team will help support you when you feel like SAD or any other mental health concern is just too much to bear. A level of care assessment provided by our licensed professionals will determine what level of treatment is best to move you toward improved mental health. To learn more or to get the help you need right now call: 855-990-1900.