How this season can lead to mood changes
Twenty percent of Americans may suffer the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Also known as seasonal depression, SAD may be triggered by decreased access to sunlight. Of course, both fewer daylight hours and more time inside during the cold season contribute.
Winter is a dark season in the Chicago area. In early November, we set our clocks back an hour. As the days shorten and the cold sets in, it can feel like you’re living much of life in the dark hours. By this time in the season, many of us are feeling in a funk.
Yet, there may be other factors at play, complicating the causes of (and treatment for) SAD. These include:
- Seasonal shifts in work or schedule. If your busy season is summer, you might find that you have less to occupy your mind and hands—and you spend the extra time worrying.
- Emotional associations. If you’ve lost a loved one during this season, you may find it more difficult to keep your mood and thoughts positive.
- Holiday letdown. The frenetic pace and exhilaration of the winter holidays can lead to a real letdown for many people once they’re over.
- Reduced outdoor activity. Exercise acts as a mood enhancer. Many people find themselves less motivated to go to the gym during this time of year. This is when the depression-inactivity cycle can set in.
Common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
- Reduced energy and an increased need for sleep
- Changes in appetite or cravings—some sufferers notice weight gain
- Increased irritability and temper outbursts
- Changes or strain in your relationships
- Loss of interest in activities that normally bring enjoyment
- Decreased motivation
If you’re finding yourself in a funk this winter season, perhaps it’s time to seek help for your Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. Many patients find relief with individual therapy sessions to address underlying causes or drivers. In addition, some patients may benefit from phototherapy—which is light therapy intended to artificially mimic the sun. Some sufferers also find relief with an increase in physical exercise. Additionally, in some cases, medication can help.
At Guada Psychological Services, I offer individual, group, and video therapy for adolescents and adults struggling with a variety of mental health conditions, including Seasonal Affective Disorder. My approach to therapy is tailored to each patient. I carefully consider the full context of each patient’s life, so I can help him or her make positive change. As a PsyD, I am trained to see even the most serious cases. Through comprehensive education, deep experience, and enduring human compassion, I build rapport and lasting relationships with each and every one of my patients to provide relief and a brighter future.
To discuss how therapy might help, reach out for a short consultation at 847-797-4699.