Now that we’re deep into Daylight Saving and the sun sets early, it’s important to understand the a difference between casual winter blues, which many of us have, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is much more severe.
SAD is a type of clinical depression that usually starts and ends at the same time every year, coinciding with the seasons. Generally, SAD is triggered by the scarcity of the sun, beginning in the fall and peaking in the winter and whittling out by spring. Sunlight plays an important role in our biological clocks, regulating how much melatonin and serotonin we produce.
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While the winter blues are common and make us feel sluggish and tired, the main difference between this and SAD is the fact that the former doesn’t interrupt your ability to conduct our daily lives. Here are a few simple guidelines that can help inform you on whether you have seasonal depression or not. Also make sure to check out 5 Ways To Prep For The Winter Blues.
You appetite changes
It’s difficult to keep track of your eating patterns, especially if you live alone, so help yourself by being mindful about it or asking someone you live with to keep an eye on you. We express a lot of our feelings through the way we eat, and it’s common for us to crave comfort foods during the winter. If you notice you tend to gain weight during these months — not only because of the holidays — this is usually a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
You feel consistently sad
This season, you should be more in tune with your feelings since you’ve likely been exposed to some emotional ups and downs already. The sadness that occurs with SAD is usually consistent, lasting for the majority of the season.
It’s tough to get excited over things you enjoy
Another sign of SAD is that it gets tough to become excited over hobbies, tasks or even sex. This apathy is easily normalized, making it difficult to spot. Keep an eye out for these changes in behavior, writing down a list of hobbies that reliably make you happy if necessary and noticing your reaction to them during the fall and winter.
You have a tough time concentrating
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Brain fog and trouble getting through your daily activities is another symptom of SAD. It’s very common for people who suffer from this conditions to have difficulty getting through their days, completing their work tasks and chores.
If you find yourself sleeping and eating much more than you used to, you’re hibernating. In order to battle it, make it your mission to move as much as you can, to get some sunlight, to try to normalize your eating and to reach out for help if necessary. SAD is a serious condition that should be monitored and controlled.