It’s that time of year in the Pacific Northwest when the days are short, cold, and rainy. For many, these winter months of little sunshine cause a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is related to changes in seasons - it begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, zapping your energy and making you feel out of sorts. If you’re wondering if you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD, below are 10 common signs that may help you determine if you have this condition and what you can do to help.
10 symptoms of SAD
Lack of Energy: There is an overall feeling of tiredness or sluggishness.
Weakened Immune System: Depression forms such as SAD changes the regulation of neurotransmitters such as seratonin, or the release of stress hormones such as cortisol which weaken the body’s immunity to infections.
Reduced Libido: When a person is feeling pessimistic and tired, the last thing he or she wants to think about is sex.
Lack of Concentration: SAD’s effect on mental functioning can hinder a person’s ability to stay on task.
Overeating or Weight Gain: Craving for carbs as comfort food are common during episodes of SAD.
Increased Alcohol Use: The use of alcohol to “medicate” the neurochemical changes during and episode of SAD can provide a false sense of feeling “ok”.
Feeling Guilt or Worry: Panic attacks or feelings of failure are common during episodes of SAD, triggering feelings of guilt or shame.
Interrupted or Poor Sleep Patterns: SAD may be accompanied by a disruption in body regulatory systems and biochemical factors such as melatonin. In addition, the poor quality of sleep and negative mood patterns creates a vicious cycle of stress/no sleep, no sleep/stress.
Irritability: The malfunctioning of the body’s regulatory systems, including hormones, neurotransmitters, and other messenger chemicals can affect one’s ability to cope with everyday levels of stress.
Social Withdrawal: Low mood and feelings of sadness directly affect a person’s motivation to interact socially.
What You Can Try
Cognitive behavioral therapy which can help identify healthy ways to cope, address stress management, and discover how to change negative thoughts and behaviors into more positive ones
Mind-Body Connection: relaxation techniques (reflexology), meditation
Make environment brighter
Take a trip to a sunny, warm destination
The Reflexology Connection
Reflexology is proven to reduce stress, increase relaxation, and balance the body systems. After a session, clients experience an overall sense of well-being, making reflexology a natural complement to dealing with the symptoms of SAD.