This time of year can be filled with joy, anticipation and also some trepidation. December may find us with extra commitments on our calendars and a stressfully long to-do list. Additionally, next week marks the shortest day of the year, which means the longest night as well.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many people can notice changes in mood and energy as we lose sunlight.
Often called “the winter blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts millions of Americans with symptoms like oversleeping, overeating, weight-gain, and a desire to “hibernate” or withdraw from normal social interactions. It is related to the lack of light which can disturb the internal clock and may lead to feelings of depression. The brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin can also be affected and cause disturbances in sleep and mood.
In most cases, symptoms occur in the late fall or early winter. More severe symptoms of depression may include losing interest in enjoyable activities, having low energy, feeling sluggish or agitated, feeling hopeless or worthless or having difficulty concentrating.
If you think you may be suffering from SAD, there are several things you can try to minimize your symptoms.