The winter season can affect us all differently. While some of us love the crisper air and winter activities, others dread the winter months. The change in season is also a time where it is more common to experience an increased feeling of sadness or loneliness.

While being sad on occasion is just a part of life, persistent feelings of loneliness or lingering mood struggles can indicate a larger problem. Seasonal affective disorder affects about 20% of the population, and is more common in the winter months.

Our AFC Urgent Care Arden team explains more about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, below.

Who Can Get SAD?

While developing seasonal affective disorder is possible for anyone, it is much more common in women than in men. It also affects younger adults more frequently than older adults. Our hormone levels fluctuate with the seasons due to the presence of natural light. In the winter, daylight is more scarce because the days are shorter and the sun isn’t as powerful.

When we aren’t exposed to the sun every day, our bodies can overproduce melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in response to darkness that helps us fall asleep at night, but an overload of this hormone can cause excessive sleepiness and symptoms similar to depression.

5 Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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

How Do You Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Treatment for this condition will vary greatly depending on your symptoms and your medical history. That is why it is important to visit with your care team if you are experiencing any symptoms of SAD. For some people, lifestyle changes may be all that is needed, while others may benefit more from medication like antidepressants.

One positive thing about this mood disorder is that it typically goes away when the weather warms up and the sun becomes stronger again. When spring and summer roll around, your symptoms will lessen and may even disappear completely. If you continue to struggle with your symptoms even after the change in season, you should seek additional support from your care team. Regular depression is always a serious situation and should be treated as such.

Additional Ways to Limit SAD Symptoms

  • 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 Arden to visit with our care team.