Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder or Depression?

February 1, 2023

Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder or Depression?

Your mental health is a crucial part of your overall well-being. This is especially true in the winter months when our lifestyles change up and we spend more time indoors.

While some of us get through the season by looking forward to summer, the winter season can cause the appearance of seasonal affective disorder for others.

Mild periods of sadness throughout the year are common and usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if your feelings of sadness fail to go away or get worse, it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms.

Our AFC Urgent Care Ballantyne team explains how to differentiate between seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression below, so read on.

Why Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Occur?

As the winter season arrives, the sun’s rays are not as strong and there is less natural daylight during each day. This change in daylight, coupled with the chillier temperatures outside, makes most of us turn to the warmth of our homes to ride out the season.

Because of this, many of us don’t have daily exposure to the sun in the winter! While we know that sun exposure helps control your vitamin D levels, it also is important in controlling your melatonin levels in your body. Less exposure to sunlight can signal your body to start producing too much melatonin. An overload of melatonin can cause symptoms similar to depression.

Symptoms of SAD

  • Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of guilt

Will SAD Go Away?

This is the biggest difference when it comes to seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression. While depression can occur in episodes at any time during the year, SAD tends to follow seasonal patterns. Symptoms usually appear in the fall and resolve in the spring when the days become longer.

While you may start to feel better as the spring and summer seasons roll around, it is important to check in with your mental health throughout the year. Depression can be very serious and needs to be addressed right away. Take care of your body and mind in 2023!

Helpful Ways to Reduce SAD Symptoms

  • Stand in the sun more often.
  • Discover a new hobby to keep you engaged.
  • Practice more self-care, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Visit with a doctor if your symptoms start to affect your everyday life.

Does winter make you feel down? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Ballantyne to visit with our care team.

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