Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment in Aberdeen, South Dakota

In like a Lion, out like a Lamb

Many of us have heard this phrase, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” This proverb is referring to when March starts it’s still Winter and by the end of the month Spring has begun, well, sort of.  Those of us in the Midwest know we could still expect a blizzard in April.  For some, the sign of Spring and Summer is a welcome relief for their mental health and well being. Taking walks, going to the lake and Summer sports are helping to bring our moods up a few notches. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is commonly thought of for the Winter months. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 [], criteria for depression with a seasonal pattern include having depression that begins and ends during a specific season every year (with full remittance during other seasons) for at least two years and having more seasons of depression than seasons without depression over a lifetime. Seasonal pattern disorders occur most frequently in winter.

The National Institute of Mental Health report that SAD is a type of depression characterized by a recurrent seasonal pattern with symptoms lasting 4-5 months out of the year.  Not all who have SAD experience all of the symptoms of depression but can include:

  1. Persistent sad, anxious mood most of the day nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
  2. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
  3. Feelings of irritability, frustration or restlessness.
  4.  Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
  5. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
  6.  Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling slowed down.
  7.  Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
  8.  Changes in sleep or appetite or unplanned weight changes.
  9.  Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not have a clear physical cause and do not go away with treatment.
  10. Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts.

It is also important to know that there are people who suffer from Summer-pattern SAD. We often associate cold, and lack of sun with SAD but in fact, we can still experiences depressive like symptoms with warmth and sunshine. Here are some symptoms of Summer-pattern SAD:

  1. Trouble sleeping
  2. Poor appetite, leading to weight loss
  3. Restlessness and agitation
  4. Anxiety
  5. Violent or aggressive behavior

To be diagnosed with SAD, it is important to talk to your mental health provider or medical provider. There are several ways to treat SAD such as therapy, vitamin D and antidepressant medications. It has been helpful for some to utilize light therapy during the Winter-pattern SAD. You can ask your medical provider to run a blood test to check your Vitamin D levels. For those that are diagnosed with SAD they may learn how to be preventative prior to their Winter or Summer pattern. They may start to increase their therapy, or medications and vitamins just prior to the start of their pattern.

It has been estimated that millions of Americans suffer from SAD, we in the Midwest are more likely than those in the South. SAD does occur more often in women than men.  It is also more common for those that may already struggle with depression or Bipolar disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health report that people with ADHD/ADD, eating disorders, anxiety disorders or panic disorders can often experience SAD. For more information on what causes SAD check out this article.

If you think you may struggle yourself with SAD, ask your mental health or medical provider to talk more with you on your symptoms and options.  All of us at Conklin Clinics will be happy to help and guide you into a healthier you!

Remember if you or anyone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 or in life threatening situations, call 911.

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