How to Know If You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people feel down in the dumps once the temperatures drop. It gets dark earlier so you feel like you have less time to do things, the stress of the holidays is setting in, and if you’re alone during the cheery holiday season, you might find yourself feeling a little lonely. But how do you know if your glumness is normal or something more? If you have several of the following symptoms, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Consult your doctor to see what your treatment options are.

  1. The symptoms last from fall until spring:

    If you feel the shift in your mood occur once fall begins and lift again when springtime hits, there’s a good chance you have SAD. Though the details of the causes of SAD are still being studied, it’s widely believed that the depression comes from the decrease in bright light that happens during the winter months. Reverse seasonal affective disorder occurs during the summer, so if that’s when you feel down, reverse SAD might be the culprit.

  2. You feel worse as you get farther into the season:

    Most SAD symptoms worsen during the darkest months of winter. If this matches up with when you start feeling the worst, it’s a strong sign you’re suffering from SAD. You could feel better just by using light therapy if your doctor recommends it.

  3. You’re feeling fatigued:

    As the fall season progresses, if you find yourself feeling very low on energy and fatigued, and it persists beyond your trips to the mall in Christmas traffic, you could be suffering from this winter depression. You might not feel motivated to do anything or go anywhere, and may find yourself sleeping more than normal.

  4. You crave carbs:

    A lot of us have the urge to eat comforting complex carbohydrates when we’re feeling blue. Pasta, bread, and the like can make us feel a bit better when we’re just a little sad. But if you notice you have an increased appetite, crave carbs all winter, and have gained weight because of your eating habits and inactivity, SAD might be to blame. If your weight gain and food consumption is just due to the holiday feasts and parties, don’t worry; you’ll work it off next year.

  5. You don’t feel like having sex:

    Besides withdrawing from social activities that you previously liked, SAD often causes its sufferers to have a decreased sex drive. For many people, winter and the holidays can be a great time to cuddle up with your significant other or a crush, but if you’re not feeling the urge like you normally do, it could be depression holding you back.

  6. Your doctor suggests it might be your problem:

    You’re not going to feel any better this winter if you don’t take your suspicions to a doctor. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and see what he suggests. He may check for other physical problems as well before diagnosing SAD. After a diagnosis, you might start light therapy or be prescribed drugs to help treat your problem, but this can only happen if you visit your doctor and get his opinion.