With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.
-William Wordsworth

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that emerges during the winter months when days are shorter and there is less natural sunlight. Seasonal affective disorder generally eases in spring and summer with longer days of natural sunlight.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

In addition to the typical symptoms of depression, seasonal affective disorder is typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain.
Like all forms of depression, individuals with seasonal affective disorder may experience few or many of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Even the most severe cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated, and treatment is most effective when it is started early. Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Every individual is affected by seasonal affective disorder in their own way, and treatment must be customized to the individual. In other words, there is no single pre-defined seasonal affective disorder treatment that works for everyone.

Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating seasonal affective disorder. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, including:

Medication, specifically antidepressants, may help improve the way the brain manages chemicals that control mood or stress. Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.

Light Therapy has also been found to have beneficial effects for some people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. A light therapy box mimics natural sunlight, and may cause a chemical change in the brain that eases symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Get Help for Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to seek treatment for seasonal affective disorder, please contact me for an evaluation.

Also see Depression Therapy »