A new year can bring new opportunities and a new outlook on life! But it can also be the catalyst for a variety of mental health struggles, including seasonal affective disorder.

While all of us can experience the winter blues from time to time, this mental health condition is much more consistent and produces more severe symptoms. If you are finding that you dread the winter season or seem to have lingering issues with your mood at this time of year, you may be experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team explains more about seasonal affective disorder below, so read on.

Who Gets Seasonal Affective Disorder?

This diagnosis is more common once you reach adulthood, and it is actually much more common in women than in men. That doesn’t mean this diagnosis isn’t possible if you are out of those parameters, though. It is important to stay vigilant and investigate any changes to your own, your child’s or your loved one’s mental health.

It is thought that the drop in daily sunlight can trigger symptoms of SAD. In the winter, the sun isn’t out as long as the rays aren’t as strong, which significantly reduces our daily exposure to natural light. When this happens, our bodies can start to overproduce certain hormones like melatonin. Since melatonin helps us fall asleep, an overload of this hormone can cause an imbalance and produce symptoms similar to depression.

Signs That You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

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

Can I Do Anything About SAD Symptoms?

Like with any mental health condition, treatment varies widely depending on your symptoms, health history and other factors. That is why it is really important to meet with your care team! A full evaluation can help determine what will work best for you.

Simple lifestyle changes or therapy may help some people manage their symptoms, and others might need medication to help them through! It should be a comfort to know that most people experience SAD symptoms in the fall and winter, and find relief when spring arrives. If you are struggling with your mental health all year, it may be due to another form of depression and it is vital that see a medical provider.

Additional Ways Support 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.

Does winter make you feel down? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga to visit with our care team.