Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, also known as Seasonal Depression, affects many of us in colder climates during the winter months. Knowing some of the causes and signs of this disorder can help educate us on this very difficult illness and alert us when it’s time to get help.
SAD is often caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, an important vitamin our bodies produce when exposed to direct sunlight. In the cold, dark winter months, our bodies are not producing enough vitamin D to keep our levels balanced, and as a result, we can experience worsened feelings of sadness and anxiety. We can feel at odds within ourselves. We don’t feel like ourselves. We don’t feel at peace. We can even feel like we don’t recognize ourselves. For people who suffer from depression, SAD can feel exactly the same and operate in many of the same ways. For others who don’t regularly deal with depression, SAD can be perplexing, confusing and troubling. People can struggle to understand why they’re feeling so down and so unlike themselves. They can be confused as to why their symptoms are affecting them so suddenly, as they can often come on without warning. They can feel impatient to get back to normal. They can miss their regular lives and feel desperate to reclaim their sense of normalcy.
For many people with SAD, the depression-related symptoms can be severe and particularly bothersome. We can be unable to sleep or eat normally, and our normal sleep and eating patterns are interrupted. Our energy levels decrease, and we can have a hard time getting through the day. We can be lethargic and feel exhausted. We can look to the future with dread and not know how we’re going to make it to the next day. Our normally positive outlook can be replaced by pessimism, negativity and cynicism. We can find ourselves having suicidal thoughts when that was never an issue for us before. We can feel hopeless, defeated and scared. We can feel lost, alone and isolated. We can exacerbate these feelings by isolating ourselves and avoiding people. Our stress levels can be dangerously high, and we feel ourselves getting easily overwhelmed, even by the smallest, seemingly benign things.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.