Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Winter is quickly approaching, and while many are looking forward to the holiday season, some people will be experiencing a marked decline in their mood and level of functioning. While the occasional drop in our emotions due to the weather is normal, it becomes a problem when it turns into a depressive episode. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an episode of depression that accompanies the winter season, known as winter depression. SAD usually begins in the late fall and ends in the start of spring. It is thought to be caused by the reduced exposure to sunlight, which may disrupt our biological clock and interfere with our neurotransmitter (e.g., serotonin, dopamine) functions. The symptoms of SAD include low energy, excessive sleeping, social withdrawal, isolation, and increased appetite and weight gain.
The good news is that SAD is temporary and typically less acute than major depressive disorder, which is the most common and severe form of depression. Treatment for SAD includes exposure to bright, white light, known as phototherapy or light therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also be helpful. You may wish to consider speaking with a mental health professional if you suspect you may be affected by SAD.