There are aspects of winter that can be rather predictable – cold weather, ice and snow, and for some people, depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a seasonal depression that occurs at the same time each year. It usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring or early summer. Individuals with SAD typically report symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, sleep more, increased appetite and withdraw from activities. Another symptom can be a craving for starch or sweet foods.
By contrast, people with cabin fever or the winter blues tend to feel antsy and feel as though they want/need to get out of the house.
If a person thinks they may have the symptoms of SAD, they should start with their primary care physician. The family doctor may be able to rule out other possibilities before seeking help from a mental health professional. Once diagnosed, eating a well-balanced diet may help control cravings for starches and sweets that cause weight gain. Light therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of symptoms and daily aerobic exercise and spending time outside are also recommended. It is important to stay socially involved when diagnosed and treating SAD symptoms.
Psychotherapy and/or medications can also prove beneficial in the treatment of SAD. If you feel that you experience symptoms beyond the winter blues and are in need of an evaluation, or have already been diagnosed and would like to begin treatment, please call us at 816.399.4204 or schedule an appointment and let us help you manage your depression.