Let’s Break Down SAD

November 07, 2022

Have you noticed?  It’s getting darker much sooner. Have you also noticed changes in your mood and energy levels? This is not uncommon at this time of the year when, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are shorter and temperatures are getting colder signaling the coming of bad weather and much more indoor time.

Have you really noticed, though? Take some time to examine whether there is something going on that may need your, or professional, attention. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that can take hold at this time of the year and seriously affect your life. It’s thought that light triggers and time changes affect the body’s circadian rhythms which in turn affect the normal functioning of neurotransmitters. It is important to stress that this is not a personal failing. It is a biological condition. Also, there are things that can be done about it.

According to the NIH National Library of Medicine, SAD affects 0.5 to 3 percent of individuals in the general population. Those with preexisting mental health conditions can experience a heightened degree of symptoms and these should be taken seriously.

How do you recognize if this is you? How do you know the difference between feeling temporarily “down” and real clinical depression? Here are some questions provided by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, or CAMH, in Toronto to help you decide if you have SAD:

Are you experiencing a despairing mood that:

  • you feel most days and lasts all day
  • has lasted more than two weeks
  • affects your performance at work, school in relationships?

Here is another online tool offered by the National Health Service in the UK to help determine if you qualify as having depression. Click the link to answer the questions.

If in reviewing this material you determine that you are at risk for depression it is important to tell someone and follow through to seek and receive help. This information is provided merely as a guideline and these resources are readily available online. Let a professional provide a proper opinion if these changes in mood are of any concern. First identify and then you will be able to seek appropriate help.

It is of utmost importance to pay attention to your body and provide what it needs to cope and thrive. Learn more about these options in our blog “Beat SAD Naturally and Effectively.”