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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Advocacy Sheet

By EmpowHER

Are you SAD? Seasonal affective disorder can strike anyone. It is characterized by depression that happens roughly the same time each year, and can occur in the fall and continue until the winter is over. It can cause symptoms of moodiness, lack of energy, craving “comfort” foods and can even occur (although more rarely) in the spring and summer months.

If you find you have these symptoms at about the same time each year, you may have SAD; it’s more than the winter blues, and you don’t have to fight it alone. You may want to get an appointment with your doctor to ask some questions and see what he or she thinks about treating your condition.

  • How is SAD diagnosed? Your doctor may ask you some detailed questions to determine your mood, how seasonal changes effect your thoughts, your lifestyle and social situation in addition to sleeping and eating patterns. Questions may be verbal or in written form. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam or other medical tests to rule out an underlying problem that may be causing your condition.
  • What causes SAD? Melatonin and seratonin levels may play a part, in addition to your biological clock. You may be genetically prone to develop the condition.
  • What are some risk factors for developing SAD? Females are more prone to developing SAD, as well as living far from the equator (decreased sunlight) and family history also all play a role.
  • What if I have SAD and don’t seek treatment or follow through with treatment? As with any mental illness or depression, it can worsen if not treated. Learning behaviors for dealing with feelings of depression, and getting treated can help you to avoid future complications. Untreated, the condition could progress to suicidal thoughts or behavior, social withdrawal, school or work problems, or substance abuse.
  • How is SAD treated? SAD often is treated with light therapy (as directed by your doctor or wellness expert), antidepressant medications, and psychotherapy.
  • What can I do to help the treatment of SAD and help fight future problems? In addition to working with your doctor, you can try to make your environment sunnier (opening window blinds, and sitting closer to windows), walking outside whenever you can, or sitting outside to soak up some sunshine when it’s available, and exercising regularly can help keep symptoms under control.
  • What alternative therapy is available? While there are several therapies and herbal remedies that tout relief from depression and SAD-ness, it’s important to work with your doctor to avoid conflicting with any medical treatment you may be undergoing. Herbal remedies include St. John’s wort, SAMe, melatonin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Mind-body therapies include acupuncture, yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and massage therapy.
  • What else can I do to manage SAD? Stick to your treatment plan developed with your doctor. You also should take care of yourself (inside and out), practice stress management, socialize, and take a trip when you can. It also always helps to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

This information is not meant to be a replacement for talking with your doctor. It is meant to be a catalyst. Work with your doctor or wellness expert to assure proper treatment and future good health.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. She started a women’s group, The Wo-Hoo! Society, in the interests of friendship, networking, and philanthropy. The group meets separately on a monthly basis in the Phoenix and Kansas City areas. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.

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