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Shining Local Light on Depression

Winter blues in bloom: combating seasonal affective disorder

Article by Emily Runyan, LMFT

Photography by TN Mental Wellness

Originally published in Gallatin Lifestyle

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recurring mood disorder, manifesting as depression during specific times each year. While it commonly occurs in fall or winter due to reduced daylight, some individuals may experience SAD in the spring or summer. The condition's cyclic nature aligns with seasonal changes, impacting individuals with symptoms such as low mood, fatigue and changes in sleep patterns.

What are the symptoms of SAD?
Experiencing fatigue, diminished energy and persistent sluggishness daily, coupled with a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities, could indicate symptoms of SAD. Feelings of moodiness, irritability, sadness or hopelessness, accompanied by a sense of worthlessness and guilt, may further manifest. Social withdrawal, carbohydrate cravings, overeating and subsequent weight gain are common. SAD symptoms typically start mildly and intensify with the season's progression, while spring/summer SAD may present as agitation, difficulty sleeping and eating, and weight loss.

What are effective ways to provide support for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Light therapy, medications and talking with professionals are all important. Early intervention is also key. Additionally, manageable exercise routines, pairing new habits with existing ones and cultivating joy through daily moments of gratitude and positive thinking aid in support methods.

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