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Seasonal Depression

Jan 19, 2023

Seasonal Depression
It’s normal to feel a little down during the dark and gloomy winter months. However, if you’ve noticed significant changes in your thoughts and behaviors, you may have seasonal depression. Learn more here.

Seasonal depression – also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – is a type of depression that’s linked to seasonal changes, affecting about 5% of the adult population in the United States.

Seasonal depression typically starts in late fall and continues until it starts to get sunnier in the spring months. 

Our team at Catalyst Medical Group is here to help you, so you don’t have to struggle through the long winter months.

How to know if you have seasonal depression

Seasonal depression differs from the “winter blues,” which are milder and can leave you feeling down when we have long, dark nights and gloomy days. Seasonal depression is more intense and leads to symptoms that include: 

  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety 
  • Trouble concentrating 

You may also lose interest in the things you usually like to do, especially social activities.

Seasonal depression usually affects people between the ages of 18 and 30 and typically occurs in women, more than men. You’re more likely to develop seasonal depression if you already have another mood disorder or mental health condition, or if you live in an environment that’s dark and cloudy consistently. 

Causes of seasonal depression

Although the exact cause of seasonal depression isn’t known, research suggests some of these factors could be the culprit:

  • Biological circadian rhythm: Some experts believe that having less sunlight in the winter can shift your internal clock, which in turn can affect your sleep and then your mood.
  • Serotonin levels: Reduced amounts of sunlight can trigger a drop in serotonin levels, which regulate your mood.
  • Melatonin levels: When the seasons change, your melatonin levels shift, which can affect both sleep and your mood.

Negative thoughts about winter, in addition to a deficiency in vitamin D, can also increase your risk for developing seasonal depression.

Treating seasonal depression

There are a few different treatment options when it comes to managing seasonal depression. 

Try getting more exposure to sunlight either by sitting near a window or by getting outside in the sunshine for 10-30 minutes a day. 

Talk therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you work through certain negative patterns of thought to encourage new ways of thinking about yourself and your environment.

We may also suggest antidepressants to help correct any imbalances and relieve your depression symptoms.

If you’d like to learn more about seasonal depression or to see one of our providers, contact our team at Catalyst Medical Group, to set up an appointment today.