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Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. It’s that time of year again in Michigan, when the sun disappears for several months and some of us feel the urge to hibernate until April. The onset of shorter days and cold, grey winter weather affects many people in different ways, but what some write off as the “winter blues” is a genuine mental health condition that deserves attention and treatment.

Mayo Clinic defines Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a form of acute depression that is triggered by seasonal changes, most commonly the transition from Fall to Winter. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses and include and all-day listless or low-energy feeling, oversleeping, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in hobbies or activities you enjoy, and sometimes overeating and weight gain.

If you or a loved one are concerned about your changing mood this time of year, talk to your primary care physician or give us a visit at IEP Urgent Care to discuss your symptoms and a course of treatment. The most common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder is light therapy, but it can also respond well to medication, especially if your symptoms are severe. Simple things you can do yourself to improve the way you feel include spending time outdoors, going for walks and getting some exercise, and developing a consistent sleep schedule.

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the first step to feeling better is recognizing that you’re not alone. According to Boston University, SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with women four times more likely to be diagnosed with it than men. People struggling with severe depression or bipolar disorder are also more likely to experience SAD.


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