How Do You Know if You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It is common to experience many different emotions and feelings throughout the year. Some events bring us joy and others can produce feelings of loneliness and sadness. While these common experiences are usually nothing to worry about, lingering feelings of hopelessness and the desire to socially isolate yourself may indicate a more serious mental health issue.

While symptoms of depression can occur at any time throughout the year, seasonal affective disorder tends to follow a seasonal pattern. Our AFC Urgent Care Knoxville team explains more below, so read on.

Where Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Come From?

If you have noticed that your feelings of depression, fatigue and lack of interest in the things that usually bring you joy tend to appear around the same time every year, you might have SAD. Seasonal affective disorder tends to appear in the fall and winter seasons as the available daylight decreases and the days are shorter.

When we aren’t exposed to as much sunlight during the day, our hormone levels can become unbalanced. Melatonin is produced naturally in our bodies to help keep our circadian rhythm in check and it is triggered by darkness. If there is more darkness around, our bodies can start to produce too much of this hormone, which can cause symptoms similar to depression to appear.

Common Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of guilt

Can I Treat SAD Symptoms?

It is really important that you visit with a medical provider to discuss your symptoms! Every person is different when it comes to treatments, especially with mental health conditions. Some people may respond better to medication, while others may benefit with talk therapy or lifestyle changes.

One common way for people to experience relief from their SAD symptoms is to invest in a light box! Light therapy helps mimic natural daylight, which can help reduce your symptom severity. While it is important that you seek support during this time, it may be helpful to know that most or all symptoms of seasonal affective disorder tend to go away when the seasons change and spring arrives.

Supporting Your SAD Diagnosis

  • Stand in the sun more often.
  • Discover a new hobby to keep you engaged.
  • Practice more self-care, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Visit with a doctor if your symptoms start to affect your everyday life.

Is winter hard on your mental health? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Knoxville to visit with our care team.