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Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder at Sanctuary Mental Health & Wellness

Mental Health & Wellness at Sanctuary Florida And Tennessee

At Sanctuary Mental Health & Wellness, we are dedicated to offering holistic care and support for those who experience the severest of such mental disorders and health conditions as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Often misconstrued as seasonal depression or just “winter blues,” SAD is a complex condition that significantly affects the mood, energy, and functions of an individual in terms of specific seasons. This page will explore SAD, its symptoms, causes, and the effective treatments Sanctuary offers to help individuals cope with this condition.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that is seasonally related, occurring in seasonal patterns, beginning and ending depressive episodes at about the exact times each year. Most people with SAD experience symptoms of major depressive disorder during late fall and through the winter months, with a lack of energy and the moodiness that comes with it. Less commonly, SAD causes major depression only in the spring or very early summer.

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Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Daily feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling tired or restless
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling helpless, worthless, or guilty
  • Thinking about death or suicide more often than usual

Symptoms associated with first-onset SAD during the winter months, also known as the winter depression, include:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Overeating, particularly with cravings for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Withdrawing from social activities (feeling like “hibernating”)

Symptoms associated with summer-onset SAD include:

  • Problems sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness or anxiety

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of clinical depression and symptoms of SAD is unknown but is presumed to be triggered by:

Dimmed sunlight during the fall and winter can disrupt your internal clock and affect you in ways that might include feelings of depression.

Interruption of the body’s natural melatonin levels affects sleep and mood.

Factors that increase the risk:

  • Woman: SAD is diagnosed more frequently in women than men, although men may be more severely affected.

  • Family history: People with a family history of other types of depression are more likely to develop SAD.

  • Geography: People living far north or south of the equator are at greater risk—daylight changes during the winter.
Treatment & Support at Sanctuary

Sanctuary Mental Health & Wellness provides various alternative treatments” that have proved effective for fall-onset SAD as well as many other and other mental health conditions and disorders, and in managing SAD:

  1. Light Therapy (Phototherapy): This is one of the first-line treatments for fall-onset SAD. Light therapy consists of sitting near a light therapy box that emits a bright light that is thought to cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD.

  2. Psychotherapy: CBT adapted expressly for SAD, known as CBT-SAD, can be highly effective. It typically includes techniques to manage stress and to change negative thoughts about winter darkness.

  3. Medication: If the symptoms are severe, then an antidepressant may be prescribed. This is particularly likely to occur when light therapy and psychotherapy have not worked.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

Bipolar disorder and SAD also involve lifestyle adjustments that help with the mood disorders in the alleviation of depression symptoms by:

  • Make your surroundings sunnier and brighter by opening blinds, trimming tree branches that block the sunshine, and sitting closer to bright windows at home or in the office.

  • Spend more time outside during the day and exercise regularly to reduce stress and anxiety, which makes SAD symptoms worse.

  • Try stress management using meditation, deep breathing techniques, and regular physical exercise.

Professional Help

If you feel that you or a family member may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, contact us. It is essential to seek early diagnosis, receive treatment, and intervene effectively to live with the condition.

Contact Us

Seasonal Affective Disorder does not have to be a burden at Sanctuary Mental Health & Wellness. We are with you throughout the season. Check out our contact page or contact us directly for information about treatment options or to schedule an appointment. We will formulate the best plan to address your symptoms and support your well-being throughout the seasons.

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