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Understanding S.A.D.

Shannon Martin, Writer/Editor

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The most common misconception about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression,  is that it’s just the “winter blues”.  It’s not, it is a form of depression occurring at a certain time of the year. For more people, it’s the winter that gets most of us. Of course, winter blues is a thing, however it is not  depression. S.A.D. is something to be taken seriously, and can’t just be brushed off.

S.A.D. is self-diagnosed, meaning you need to decide whether you have it or not. Seasonal depression can be compared to the person’s mind and body entering a stage of hibernation. The most common symptoms are easy to identify, including:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Irritability, or problems getting along with other people

These are shorter-term symptoms, the longer-term ones include:

  • Feeling depressed, all day, everyday
  • Loss of interest in things you’ve once enjoyed
  • Sluggishness and agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death

Doctors believe that the most blameable reason for S.A.D. is the decreased amount of light. Waking up in the morning when it’s dark, and coming home from school or work and it’s either dark already or will be in about an hour. There are 10 hours of light instead of 14, and the lack of sunlight takes a toll on a person.

Another misconception about S.A.D. is that it only affects women. 90% of sufferers are women, men however still can suffer from severe symptoms. Anyone can be affected by S.A.D., but the most common places to have it are those who live further from the equator, experiencing bigger extremes between light and dark hours.  S.A.D. is also genetic, if you’re thinking of diagnosing yourself, look into your family history, it could give you some answers.
There’s a few ways to help a S.A.D. sufferer through the season, including antidepressants, light therapy and psychotherapy.  The less extensive ways to lighten oneself can be to take a shower, exercise, opening curtains to let more light into your house, painting your walls lighter colors, and going for walks mid-day, when the sun is at its peak.

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Understanding S.A.D.