Seasonal Affective Disorder

January 7, 2010 Uncategorized 13

What is this you ask?

Seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall or winter and ending in spring or early summer. It is more than just “the winter blues” or “cabin fever.” A rare form of SAD known as “summer depression,” begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall.


People who suffer from SAD have many of the common signs of depression: Sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in their usual activities, withdrawal from social activities, and inability to concentrate. They often have symptoms such as extreme fatigue and lack of energy, increased need for sleep, craving for carbohydrates, and increased appetite and weight gain.

Symptoms of winter SAD include:
  • Fatigue
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Decreased levels of energy
  • Weight gain
  • Increase in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased desire to be alone

Honestly, when I lived up north I think I experienced a bit of this myself. We called it the after holiday blues or the winter blues what ever you want to call it, SAD can be serious and I’ve seen many more signs of it this winter.

I have blogging friends who’ve admitted to it, some anxiety and such beginning with the holiday onslaught and then continuing right on through the bitter cold and bleak days of winter. Maybe because of the unusually cold weather we have had in Florida the past 2 weeks I’m seeing a difference in the activities and attitudes of some of my local friends too.

What worries me more is the people who can’t see that they are impacted by this disorder and seem to mask it or hide it by saying or doing other things. It’s common to want to stay in and stay warm……….what is not typical is people who want to just stop all normal activities, school, work, grocery shopping etc and stay in. Now these are not people living in seriously frigid temps, these are folks who just want to lock in and keep out all the rest. And while in they are still prone to lethargic SAD behaviors, not wanting to do household chores or cook or much of anything.

How does the winter impact you?

I have to say, the recent cold temps have made me want to stay in, and maybe it’s a good thing I have to take Nick to school and pick him up. Maybe it’s a good thing that my kid’s sports and activities keep me on my toes and busy, and yes out the door. Maybe it’s good we have the new puppy and she wants to play, and she makes messes and yes even in cold temps she likes to go outside and run around a bit.

One more thought or question………….how do you help or approach a friend you believe may have SAD……… do you encourage a friend to seek help?

13 Responses to “Seasonal Affective Disorder”

  1. Beth

    I think it affects most all people in extreme climates at some level. I know I get tired of it and feel down…but I know how to keep myself on the yesterday we went out and ran errands and ate dinner out (at Target..blech)

    Winter in general doesn’t bother me anymore than the extreme heat you all get in Florida get… I personally get physically sick from high humidity and temps and find myself seeking air conditioned venues.. I love spring and fall in MN…it rocks!

  2. Anita

    In the past, the lack of sun would get to me if cloudiness lasted more than five days, in any season, but not to the point of withdrawing – just irritability.
    Now I walk, run, ride horses, play tennis, walk the dog…anything! And there are days when I don’t want to, but I make myself because I know that it will make me feel good. Having a friend along is good too.

    I always advise people to do something physical, if just a 20 minute walk. But I realize that some people need medical attention, probably just to get themselves to go outside for any amount of time.

    I hope your post will help someone who may be reading it.

  3. jingle

    What helpful hints.
    thank you for sharing,
    you do care,
    that’s what counts.

    Best wishes!

    Outstanding post of the day. 🙂

  4. Crazy Mom of Three

    Winter makes me not want to leave the house when it is below 33 degrees. Mainly, it is logistical. When it is below freezing, gloves, hats, coats, scarves and even snow pants become necessities for little ones both coming and going. There just isn’t anywhere my kids really enjoy playing more than at home anyway I have found. So I embrace some hibernation. But, we get out when we need or want to. It isn’t below freezing around here all the time; we get days in the 50’s sometimes even.

  5. Crazy Mom of Three

    I meant to add that I actually had a roommate in college who claimed to have this and she warned me that she would become mean and very different in January. I didn’t believe her but wow did she ever change in the early months of the year. I had to move out! She was a fun and lovely person all other times I knew her and we remained friends throughout college.

  6. Sandy

    I don’t know if I’ve ever suffered from SAD. I doubt it. Winter is NOT my favorite season, don’t think I have one, but January is okay with me because it means the holidays are over and I sort of enjoy getting back into the routine. It is a long month though, and when February gets here, I think…..Spring is just around the corner!

  7. Bonnie

    I think I may suffer from SAD on some level. I’m always a little down once the holidays are over and it seems Spring is so far away.

    I’m not sure how you would approach someone about this if you think they are suffering but maybe some of them will read this post and connect it to themselves.

  8. Pam

    I actually like the winter. I grew up in a four season state and lived for 14 years in AZ. I hated the weather there.

    As for you friend… Maybe you can just gently suggest to her that perhaps she is suffering from SAD and give her an article about it. Other than that, I’m not sure there is much you CAN do.

  9. Terra

    First, I like to hide in the SUMMER and BASK in the Winter!

    Second, your poor friend. I think I would knock on the door with a basket of yummies, roll of paper towels, bottle of windex and welcome myself in for a cleaning party…crank the tunes have a little fun and recommend help during the process…

    BUT…it depends on the friend…

  10. linda

    Many people haven’t ever heard of SAD but it’s real. We were planning on moving to Oregon but my husband said no way due to the cold, dreary weather much of the time. SAD is prevalent in Oregon.

    I felt alot of that list are things that I’m doing these days but blame it on not being able to get around. I’m sure that once I’m able to walk around normally again, go to work, etc., I’ll be back to my old self in no time.

  11. My name is PJ.

    Winter doesn’t really impact me much. I think I go to bed earlier because it’s dark earlier, but I read with my little book light and pretend I’m camping. 😉

    I’ve addressed people who need help with depression and SAD and I’m really upfront. For one woman, one of the SAD lights made an enormous difference. Another had to change her job to second shift so she could be out and about in daylight hours. I’ve always strongly encouraged people to seek medical attention, having struggled in the past with depression myself.

  12. sheila

    oh yes, I’ve always said that this affects so many people and they normally don’t know it. I know it affects me. The other day the sun came out and OMG, what a difference!

    This is a true disorder. I hear there’s a light you can get for the home but I have no clue as to the cost.

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