5 Signs & Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
It’s estimated that up to 3% of the population experiences seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition typically impacts people during the fall and winter months, when the days are shorter, and the weather can be somewhat overcast and cold. There are many theories as to what contributes to seasonal depression. Some studies suggest that a lack of sunlight can lead to an increase in melatonin. Others believe that shorter, darker days directly impact some people’s moods. Whatever the case, it’s important to understand some of the most common signs and symptoms of seasonal depression. Having a better idea of what it looks like will make it easier to determine if you’re dealing with it, so you can get the help you deserve.
Let’s take a look at some of those signs.
One of the most common signs of seasonal depression is fatigue. You might feel like your energy is completely gone during the fall and winter months. It could even be a chore to get out of bed in the morning, and because the days are shorter, you might find yourself sleeping more often but never feeling fully rested. Unfortunately, this kind of fatigue can impact other areas of your life.
2. Difficulty Concentrating
When you’re drained all the time, it’s easy to lose focus. You might start to struggle when it comes to concentrating on things at work or school. That can affect your productivity, which might increase your stress levels, and trigger anxiety along with depression. Additionally, when you have trouble focusing and find yourself falling behind on things, your self-esteem can suffer. All of these things can contribute to a vicious cycle that fuels your depression and makes your symptoms even worse.
3. Changes in Sleep Habits
Some people with seasonal depression might feel the need to sleep more often. Others struggle with insomnia and other issues that cause difficulty sleeping. Unfortunately, sleep and depression are closely linked. Often, the less sleep you get, the easier it is for your symptoms of depression to take over. The more depressed you feel, the less likely it is that you’ll sleep well. You can try to combat this issue by developing healthier sleep habits and staying on a schedule as much as possible, no matter what time it gets dark.
Seasonal depression can often cause people to feel lonely. When the weather is warm and the days are longer, you’re more likely to see people out and about. In the winter, when it’s cold and dark, there are fewer people walking around, as most want to stay safe and warm inside. That lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of isolation, which often fuels depression even more.
5. Loss of Interest
Between feeling fatigued and unmotivated, you might also find that seasonal depression causes you to lose interest in things you typically enjoy. However, now is the best time to make sure you keep doing those things. Filling your time with activities (and people) you love will not only make your days easier to get through, but you’ll have more moments of happiness and plenty of distractions to fight back against your depression symptoms.
If these symptoms sound familiar and you believe you’re dealing with seasonal depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are things you can do to combat the effects of this condition and get through the rest of the season without feeling so helpless or hopeless.
Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment so you don’t have to deal with another winter season of sadness.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.