“Winter is coming!” This Game of Thrones line sets the perfect tone for how Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is presented in late autumn. As people brace themselves for the winter months, writers show up in droves to discuss SAD and to arm readers with knowledge that may help them fight off its devastating blow.
Here’s the deal, though. Discussing SAD in late autumn isn’t nearly as impactful as discussing it when people are suffering through it. Although autumn articles on SAD may help people avoid it or deal with it to a lesser degree, the autumn months are overshadowed with pumpkin carving, hayrides, and apple bobbing and then, people fly right into counting blessings around the Thanksgiving table and decorating their Christmas tree, present planning, and sugar cookie extravaganzas. To put it simply, people often push off less than pretty articles when their world feels beautiful and right.
Now, when SAD is in full swing and people often need distractions the most, the onslaught of traditions, celebrations, and memory-making moments that define autumn and the starting line of winter have skidded to a halt. The jack-o-lanterns’ faces caved in on themselves. The Thanksgiving turkey is demolished. The Christmas tree lost its needles and what’s left of it resides at the bottom of a pond. New Year’s Eve fireworks are exploded. The unforgiving winter winds beat our faces and chap our lips. The low temperatures keep our doors closed and our bodies sedentary.
It’s time to discuss SAD, again, because Winter is no longer coming… it’s here.
According to Healthline, SAD is a type of depression that is said to be caused when seasons change. Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, lack of concentration, social withdrawal, and fatigue. The Cleveland Clinic adds that symptoms can also include cravings for carbohydrates, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, and difficulty with sleep, either too much or too little.
For people not struggling with SAD, this may not seem like an issue. After all, it’s seasonal. It passes. Those who suffer from SAD aren’t always blind to its arrival. But it’s important to keep in mind the statistics Psychology Today shares:
- SAD is said to affect 10 million Americans
- 10-20%, on top of those 10 million Americans, have mild SAD
- SAD is four times more common in women than in men
- The age of onset is estimated to be between the age of 18 and 30
- Symptoms can be severe enough to affect the quality of life
- 6% of those who suffer from SAD require hospitalization
Those suffering from SAD aren’t just treading water as they endure less sunlight and colder temperatures, they’re drowning and begging for resuscitation every day. This fight to feel like themselves, like the person they are when SAD isn’t wreaking havoc in their world, drains victims of SAD physically, mentally, and emotionally.
If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, know there are strategies to help you through it. Whether you focus on your diet (increase omega-3 fatty acids, increase berries, limit sugar, increase folic acid, increase vitamin B-12, increase vitamin-D, etc.), supplements like Inositol, light therapy and/or consistent activity in your week, make an effort to show winter who’s boss when it comes to your health.
Do not look at your reflection and see a stranger for months at a time. And if that last thing you want to do while you’re knee-deep in the symptoms of SAD is to adjust your grocery list or buy a gym membership, consider something as simple as Inositol which isn’t a vitamin, because it can be synthesized by the body, is gluten and additive-free, and is proven to lessen the effects of depression, anxiety, and obsession-compulsion disorder.
There’s never a better time to live your best life than right now. As a fortune cookie once told me, “Time is the greatest luxury.” Make every minute of your life count. Protect yourself and your family from the destructive blows of SAD.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach