Have you been feeling down lately for no reason? Do you feel unmotivated and a sense of overwhelming sadness? If you have, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also commonly known as the "winter blues" or "seasonal depression".
Seasonal depression usually occurs at the same time every year. For most people, the symptoms will start in early fall and then will continue through the winter months. So, how do you know if you are a victim of seasonal depression? While a doctor is the only one who can officially make the diagnosis, there are a few specific things that you can look for if you feel that you are suffering from depression.
The first is feeling unusually grumpy or irritable. I'm not just talking about the days your kids are home from school, due to the snow, and are running around like wild animals. I am talking about extreme irritability, that you feel like you can't control.
The next is feeling hopeless. After the holidays, people feel that there is nothing to look forward to, and they feel like winter is going to drag on forever. While this is not true, it is hard for some people to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Weight gain is another sign that you may be seasonally depressed. Significant weight gain, due to the increased need of fatty and starchy foods combined with a lack of exercise, occurs in many people with SAD. This doesn't necessarily include the five or ten extra pounds you put on with all of those Christmas dinners.
When people have SAD, they typically feel extremely tired. Although some forms of depression can make it harder to sleep, people suffering from seasonal depression tend to sleep more and for longer periods of time. This can lead to poor concentration and aggravation.
Finally, the majority of people suffering from SAD feel withdrawn from their family and friends. This could be, in part, from the bad weather, but it could also be from a lack of interest. People tend to isolate themselves and no longer want to take part in their normal routines and activities.
If you feel that you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Seasonal depression can be treated with different medications and therapies, and your doctor can advise you on the best treatments available.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]