It's More Than Just a Winter Funk

When you think of what the winter time brings you may think of holidays, spending time with loved ones, and a possible snow (if you’re lucky). It’s a time that many people look forward to, but for some, the dark and cold winter days are nothing to be merry about. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is something that affects many people every year but rarely gets discussed. If so many people are finding their mood being altered by this unfortunate disorder, why are we choosing to dismiss the symptoms?

Do I Have SAD?

SAD is a mood disorder that is brought about by the changing of seasons. While most people find themselves facing this disorder in the fall/winter months, there are some who face it in the spring/summer. There are some key symptoms to look for in yourself and others when debating whether this specific disorder is affecting you or not.

Symptoms of SAD to look for:

  • Feeling depressed almost all of the time

  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Finding yourself with little energy

  • Having problems sleeping

  • Having changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling agitated or dull

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling worthless or guilty

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD:

  • sleeping too frequently

  • changes in appetite, especially craving high carb foods

  • gaining weight

  • extreme low energy

Symptoms specific to summer-onset SAD:

  • trouble sleeping/insomnia

  • lack of appetite

  • losing weight

  • anxiety or highly agitated

Although these are the most common symptoms to watch out for, you may only experience a few of them and still be struggling with this disorder. There could be many reasons as to why you or someone else are experiencing this. Most of the time it is brought about by lack of sunlight causing your internal clock to be disrupted, serotonin levels to drop and melatonin dropping which affects mood and sleep. Women are more at risk for experiencing this, as are younger adults more at risk than older adults. Other people who are at a greater risk of having SAD are the people who have a history of it in their family, those who have major depression or bipolar disorder and those who live far from the equator.

                                                                                                              (Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash)



What can I do to help my SAD?

If you’ve been able to recognize that you are struggling with this disorder and not just some occasional problems in the winter, then there is hope for you. Similarly to the way you try to help with depression, there are simple life changes that you can do to make a big difference. The first thing to do is raise those blinds and let the sunlight in. Then, make sure you keep yourself social and allowing yourself to not get stuck inside. Keeping yourself fighting the want to stay inside and be down, you have to try to make sure you’re sticking to your normal routine. If you’re cool with the idea of taking medication to help, you can always talk to a psychiatrist about the possibility of starting medication. Therapy is always a good option. Let me repeat, therapy is ALWAYS a GOOD option.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that so many people face every year like clockwork. Knowing how to help yourself and what signs to look for are the first steps to helping yourself out of this winter funk.

Regional Crisis Line: 800.592.3980

National Suicide Hotline: 800.273.8255

Crisis Text Line: 741-741

Murray State Counseling Services: 270.809.6851  

***Murray State Counseling Services are free of charge to all Murray State students and is located in the Oakley Applied Science building.***