Most people who live in or have been in a snowy region during the winter months can relate to “winter blues”.As the days shorten and the weather turns nastier, we tend to spend less time outdoors and more time indoors with a hot drink and a roaring fire. You may have noticed your mood darkening as the nights lengthen and turn gloomier.
Some people end up experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during these months. SAD is a form of depression that flits in and out during certain seasons, typically during the winter months. Being sad and having seasonal affective disorder or depression is not the same thing, with SAD being a serious condition that requires professional intervention before you take that long, lonely walk out into the snow.
At Golden Gate Recovery in Marin County, California, our men’s only rehab facility helps individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders including depression and addiction and anxiety and addiction.
December is hailed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Awareness Month. This period is set to highlight a form of depression associated with the changing seasons, especially during the late fall and early winter months. The symptoms that characterize this condition typically begin as the days get shorter and there is less exposure to sunlight.
SAD affects approximately 10 million Americans each year, and many of its symptoms mimic those of clinical depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that normally occurs at a specific time of the year, typically in the fall or winter when daylight hours are shorter. The exact cause of SAD is not completely understood. Still, it is believed to be related to the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter, which can disrupt the body’s internal clock and lead to changes in hormones that regulate mood.
Autumn, leading into winter, is when Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), tends to increase. The possible reasons behind this are:
Bear in mind that while the “winter blues” are common, SAD is a recognized form of clinical depression and should be treated by a healthcare professional.
Almost everyone has exhibited one or more of the signs and symptoms of SAD or clinical depression at some point in their life, without it being full-blown SAD. These symptoms can vary from person to person but generally include the following:
These symptoms cause significant distress and play havoc with daily functioning.
SAD and depression share a few similarities, as SAD is a type of depression. Below are some similarities between the two.
While these symptoms are often present in both SAD and depression, the specific timing and patterns of symptoms can help differentiate between the two.
Just as there are commonalities between SAD and clinical depression, there are also significant differences that help set them apart.
Both SAD and clinical depression are serious conditions and can significantly impact a person’s life.
Effective treatments for SAD typically involve a combination of therapies tailored to a person’s specific needs. Some of the most commonly recommended treatments are:
For people dealing with both SAD and addiction, it’s important to address both conditions simultaneously, and this may call for a dual diagnosis. Substance use disorders (SUD) can exacerbate symptoms of SAD and vice versa, and a comprehensive treatment plan that incorporates support for addiction recovery is necessary. This may involve behavioral therapies, support groups, and medical treatment for addiction alongside the treatments for SAD.
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