As humans, it is common to experience all ranges of emotions throughout each year. Some events are full of joy and others can be painful or difficult to get through. These emotions are a normal part of life!

If you find that you are experiencing symptoms of guilt, loneliness or extreme sadness more frequently in the winter months, you may have a condition called seasonal affective disorder.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, so it is important that you seek a medical opinion about any symptoms you are experiencing. In the meantime, our AFC Urgent Care Chapman Highway team explains the details of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, below.

Why Does SAD Happen?

You can develop seasonal affective disorder at any point, but it is more common to experience symptoms of this condition after you become an adult. Episodes of regular depression can occur at any point during the year, while SAD tends to follow a typical pattern along with the seasons.

Our bodies are naturally in tune to sunlight, and in the winter months, there is a lot less of it! When we aren’t exposed to natural light on a daily basis, our hormone levels can start to go out of balance. One hormone that is particularly affected by light is melatonin. Melatonin helps keep our circadian rhythms intact and is produced when darkness arrives at night. An overproduction of melatonin in the winter can cause you to experience symptoms similar to depression.

Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Adults

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

What Can I Do About Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms?

Treatment for mental health conditions is not a “one size fits all” scenario. It is really important to visit with a medical provider for an evaluation and a thorough discussion. While some people can experience a reduction in symptoms with some simple lifestyle changes, other people may benefit more from medication.

One common way that a lot of people find relief from SAD symptoms is to get a light box! Light therapy boxes can recreate natural daylight and can help your brain keep your hormone levels more balanced. The good thing about seasonal affective disorder is that once spring and summer come around, your symptoms should diminish or completely go away.

Supporting Your Mental Health

  • Stand in the sun more often.
  • 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.

Is winter hard on your mental health? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Chapman Highway to visit with our care team.