During the winter, many people face mental health challenges, such as depression. One of the main factors in winter depression is a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition afflicts millions of people across the United States during the fall and winter months. Typically, this type of condition lasts four months, although some people may experience it for a shorter period. The severity of SAD also varies, with some people experiencing significant problems, while others may have mild symptoms. However, no matter how long or how severe your seasonal affective disorder, it’s a mental health condition that will respond better to professional help. If you need mental health treatment, reach out to South Tampa Psychiatry today at 866.273.5017.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
SAD can be categorized as a type of depressive disorder, meaning many of the signs and symptoms are associated with major depression. There are, however, different, winter-specific symptoms that are different from typical depression. Most medical professionals characterize seasonal affective disorder by the fact that it reoccurs in a seasonal pattern.
Why Does SAD Occur in the Winter?
What is it about the winter season that triggers SAD? Scientists aren’t one hundred percent sure why this condition occurs in some people, but research suggests it is closely related to the serotonin levels in the brain. People who develop SAD may have a lower amount of this naturally occurring chemical in their brain.
In addition, sunlight helps boost serotonin. In the winter, the days are shorter, and there are fewer hours of sunlight. For some people, this reduction of sunlight also results in less serotonin. This is one theory of why people experience SAD.
Another theory involves the overproduction of melatonin in people with SAD. Melatonin regulates the body’s natural sleep cycle. If it gets off-cycle, it can cause some people to feel sluggish and sleepy during the daytime.
Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some of the symptoms of this winter mental health condition are the same as that of depression. These are:
- Feelings of depression most of the day, nearly every day
- Difficulty with sleep
- Feeling agitated during the day
- Decreased interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or having low energy
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Having suicidal thoughts
For the winter-specific symptoms, these include:
- Sleeping too much
- Craving carbohydrates and overeating
- Gaining weight
- Social isolation
Once the spring sunlight begins shining more regularly, people notice these symptoms begin to reduce.
Help for Winter Mental Health Needs at South Tampa Psychiatry
Seeking help for a seasonal affective disorder is critical because oftentimes, this condition can lead to substance abuse. People may use substances to alleviate the pain and suffering they are experiencing. However, this leads to a dual diagnosis disorder, requiring specialized treatment.
If you suspect you may be suffering from SAD or winter mental health needs, take time to reach out to South Tampa Psychiatry. At South Tampa Psychiatry, we offer evidence-based, comprehensive treatment to address the root of your mental health needs. Whether you need medication-assisted treatment or talk therapy, our expert staff is ready to assist you. We’ll plan a customized treatment program for you to help you get to the root of the issues you’re facing.
At South Tampa Psychiatry, we offer a variety of treatment programs to aid in the process. Some of these include:
- Depression treatment therapy
- Dialectical-behavior therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- TMS therapy for depression
Don’t let winter mental health problems keep you from enjoying life all the time. Reach out for help by contacting South Tampa Psychiatry at 866.273.5017, or contact us online. We’ll show you the way to a healthier state of mind.