FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – If you have experienced the “winter blues” over the past few weeks, you’re not alone. Seasonal affect disorder, also known as SAD is a type of depression related to the changing seasons. The disorder is common when the season changes from fall to winter.
People who experience seasonal affect disorder notice symptoms of depression limited times of the year. In the winter, the sun is not out nearly as much and the days are shorter. SAD tends to make people not feel like themselves and experience low energy and moodiness. Decreased activity both socially and physically are a few ways to notice if you may be struggling with seasonal affect disorder. People struggling then tend to isolate themselves.
Jenna Hirschy, the Assistant Director at the Bowen center says in the winter, “you’re hibernating, you’re having weight gain, you’re kind of isolating yourself in a way and when those things happen it’s associated with that season affect, it’s not a long term thing for people.”
The holidays tend to play a role in seasonal affect disorder, much of that is grief related. The ongoing pandemic has made mental health struggles worse for many. SAD can happen any time of the year, including summer months as well when the sun is out.
The disorder is treatable. Medication, talk therapy, and cognitive therapy are a few ways to help with SAD. Many resources are available as well. The Bowen Center is a local resources to help providing mental health care, primary health care and substance use treatment. BeWellIndiana.org is a statewide resource anyone can use. You can also call 211 to speak with a counselor for free.
Emotional pain caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder or for any other reason is real and deserves professional care, just as one would seek treatment for physical pain. Behavioral Health professionals with Lutheran Health Network dedicate themselves to helping people struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues gain the skills that they need to improve their quality of life. Smitha Patibandla, MD, reminds those who may be faced with anxiety and/or depression that they are not alone and offers these tips:
· Take a time-out (find a quiet place, take deep breaths and clear your mind)
· Eat well-balanced meals
· Get enough sleep (most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night)
· Exercise daily (30 minutes a day is recommended)
“What we’d like the community to know is that we are here to help,” Dr. Patibandla states. “We have an interdisciplinary team dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of adults in need of Behavioral Health services. Talk with your primary care provider today or, if you are having suicidal thoughts, go to the nearest emergency room for help.”