What Is Seasonal Depression?

It’s that time of year again when most of the country will begin experiencing cooler weather. Many of us dread this time of year. After all, nothing is worse than shoveling snow off your car or waiting for it to warm up before you head to work.

But, does it seem as if the dread you feel goes beyond that? For you, it’s not just about the colder weather. Each year, around this time, you can’t help but feel down and out of sorts for no reason that you can immediately find. If this sounds familiar to you, you might be one of many who are suffering with seasonal depression.

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal affective disorder(SAD) is the clinical name for what many people refer to as “seasonal depression.” As the name implies, it is a type of depression that only occurs during a certain season. While that is most commonly winter, the truth is any change of a season can bring this on for someone. For the purpose of this post, we will discuss seasonal depression as it relates to the fall and winter months.

The exact causes of seasonal depression during colder months aren’t known. However, plenty of research suggests that it is due to our circadian rhythm and the sunlight we take in.

We experience shorter days with less daylight during the fall and winter months. As a result, the chemicals in our brains take a while to get back into balance. If that were the only cause, however, it would likely mean that every person would experience seasonal depression.

Regardless of what causes seasonal depression, it is really challenging to deal with. Here are some of the most common signs of seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Depression Symptoms

Changes In Sleeping Patterns

The connection that depression has with sleeping habits is an intricately woven one. Those who suffer from depression, in any season likely have a sleeping schedule that goes against the status quo.

For someone with seasonal depression, they may find that the fall and winter months cause them to want to sleep more than normal. But, no matter how much they sleep, it doesn’t feel as if it’s enough. Lack of good quality sleep can then have a negative trickle effect on other areas of life, such as…

Poor Concentration

Your body and mind both rely on sleep. When your body is well-rested at night, it gives you the sustainable energy you need to get through the next day. Without that, your brain likely feels as if it’s just trudging along in the mud, or like you need the world’s largest pot of coffee just to get by.

This is why, during the winter months, those with seasonal affective disorder seem “out of sorts” regularly.

Other Symptoms of SAD

There are many more symptoms that someone with SAD may experience. These include:

  • Feeling sad, often for no reason at all
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Cravings for carbohydrates or less nutritious foods
  • Feeling hopeless

How To Manage Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression goes far beyond the “winter blues.” It’s a very real disorder that impacts millions of people each year, in every season.

  • Give your body the nutritious food it needs
  • Try to set a specific sleep schedule
  • Exercise indoors, such as quick workout videos or even walking at the mall
  • Try out a new hobby or activity to preoccupy your mind and give you something to look forward to
  • Spend a day indoors watching your favorite movies or TV shows
  • Picking up a new book to read

The best tip that can work for everyone is to try counseling. Depression treatment can help you learn new techniques not only manage during your “bad season” but in every other season of life as well. Reach out to learn more.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Ammirati Counseling
Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC, has 25+ years of clinical experience. She is a Certified Gottman Therapist and presents Gottman's "The Art and Science of Love" couples workshop.

Terri specializes in empowering clients to strengthen their relationships. She works with all aspects of relational distress and provides solution-focused therapy.
Terri A. Ammirati