Some telltale symptoms of seasonal depression—also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—are increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, sleeping more than usual, decreased energy, irritability, other changes in mood, avoiding social interaction, and loss of enjoyment in usual activities.
Before being clinically diagnosed with SAD, a person would have to experience symptoms for two seasons. But if symptoms are accompanied by feeling hopeless, it’s important to turn to a professional for help, said Dr. Joseph Di Lullo.
Di Lullo, a psychiatrist at Samaritan Hospital’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic in Troy, said SAD is almost like hibernation for humans. If people notice they are experiencing slight symptoms, it could due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Humans are social beings, and he said it’s difficult to be quarantined for long periods.
Symptoms of SAD
- Spending most of the day feeling depressed, almost every day
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Low energy
- Sleeping problems
- Appetite or weight changes
- Feeling sluggish or irritable
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Thoughts of death or suicide frequently
Source: The Mayo Clinic
SAD can be fought by engaging in self-care. Neutralizing negative thoughts by focusing on being grateful, a healthy diet, and exercise can all help with SAD, Dr. Di Lullo said. He suggests keeping a mood log that tracks food intake along with feelings. He also suggests that women make time for themselves.
Part of SAD can be attributed to a lack of sunlight. Spending time outside and indoor therapy lights can help with this. Indoor therapy lights should have 10,000 or more luminescence, or LUX, and can be purchased easily online, said Dr. Di Lullo.
“Just being in the presence of that bright light for a certain period of time every morning can suppress the secretion of melatonin and shift us out of that oversleeping but also have beneficial effects on mood,” he said.