More than just the winter blues

The changing of the seasons isn’t easy on everyone. You feel sadder in the cooler months–maybe even depressed. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that changes with the seasons. If you notice that you are affected at the same time every year, you may suffer from SAD.

What are symptoms of SAD?

Many people suffer from fatigue and weight gain. Symptoms can vary in severity but include: 

  • Feeling sad or down almost every day
  • Loss of interest in activities especially those you used to enjoy
  • Changes in sleep patterns: often sleeping more than usual
  • Having low self worth
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate and focus
  • Loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

When should I be concerned?

We all have days when we feel down or unmotivated, but when you notice periods of time–weeks or even months, you should reach out to a doctor. If you cannot find motivation to do activities you once enjoyed, this is a sign that you should see a doctor. 

What treatments are available?

Doctors can use one or a combination of treatments to help with SAD. 

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications
  • Vitamin D

Light therapy has been used for decades. Doctors have found if patients sit in front of a super bright light each day, it helps supplement their need for light. Patients use special lights that are 20 times brighter than a normal light. Most patients prefer to do this activity first thing in the morning to help set the tone for their day. 

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” helps patients cope with their situation and replace negative thoughts. Some patients have found success in scheduling positive engaging activities to combat their loss of interest during the colder winter months. 

Antidepressant medications are used to treat SAD. Although there has been success with these medications for many patients, all medications come with side effects that should be carefully considered.

Vitamin D supplements are key for many patients suffering from SAD as they have a vitamin D deficiency in the winter. You can discuss with your doctor if this is the right course of action for you. 

You know yourself better than anyone. If you believe you are showing signs of depression, get help. Healthstar Physicians is a multi-specialty physicians group with 27 locations in seven counties including three after hours clinics. We live and work right here in East Tennessee. We would love to provide care for your entire family. Reach out to us and set up an appointment. We accept most forms of health insurance. Contact us to find out more.