Seasonal depression is quite common – particularly in the northern part of the United States.  People who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) will notice that their depression falls into a cycle every year.  In most cases, people start feeling the symptoms in the fall, and they ease up or go away completely in the springtime.  In rare cases, it works the other way around.  The following information applies to the more common form of SAD in the fall and winter.

Oftentimes, people don’t fully understand what depression is.  The drug commercials you see on television might make you think that people with depression lie in bed, stare out the window, and cry all day.  In actuality, there are many symptoms of depression, and they tend to vary a bit between men and women.  Symptoms may include:

  • Sadness
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Not sleeping well or sleeping too much
  • Lethargy
  • Apathy
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

Less sunshine definitely contributes to this problem.  Being more sedentary in the winter also contributes to SAD.  However, you do not have to suffer with these symptoms!  There are many things you can do to give yourself a boost, including:

  • Getting outside and experiencing the sunshine, especially while walking in nature
  • Physical activity (exercising, housecleaning, shoveling, etc)
  • Counseling
  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Specialty lamps that mimic the sunlight (these help your brain neurochemicals to function properly)

Untreated SAD can progress to something very serious.  Social withdrawal and substance abuse are common once it progresses.  You should call your doctor if you feel down multiple days at a time, sleep is affected or you have had thoughts of suicide.  If you feel like you may hurt yourself and need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

At PDR, we integrate pain neuroscience education into our rehabilitation, showing patients how emotional health can play a role in physical pain and recovery from injury.  Continue exploring to learn more about PDR’s comprehensive approach to treating pain.