Mental Health

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasonal changes. It is rarely talked about and quite common in the United States effecting around 3 million people per year. I think it is an important time to discuss what Seasonal Affective Disorder looks like and how you can take steps to improve your mood.

So is Seasonal Affective Disorder just a milder version of major depression? Shockingly, the answer is no. Seasonal Affective Disorder can be described as a sub-type of major depression. Researchers have speculated that SAD could be brought on by the reduction in sunlight during the winter months. Your serotonin levels are thought to drop due to your biological clock being thrown out of wack which in turn leads to depression.Typically those with a family history of depression are more susceptible.

Wondering if you could possibly be experiencing SAD? Here are some symptoms:

  • a depressed mood
  • a feeling of hopelessness or thoughts of death/suicide
  • lack of energy or difficulty concentrating
  • changes in sleep and appetite
  • loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
  • You also may experience heaviness in the arms and legs

SAD doesn’t look the same for everyone and it’s important you talk to a professional about your symptoms to determine if this specific diagnosis fits what you are experiencing. A good rule of thumb is if your symptoms are starting to cause an interruption in your daily life – it is time to talk to a counselor or doctor. Interruption can look like many things – frequently thinking about your depression, skipping work, avoiding friends, chronically oversleeping with a lack of desire to get up.

Most people experience the winter blues, but don’t let yours go unchecked for a long period of time. There is no shame in reaching out to talk to someone about how you’ve been feeling.

Us here at Harness believe everyone should have a therapist on speed-dial. We do! If you are looking for a great resource, checkout our friends at BetterHelp. BetterHelp provides online counseling so you can work therapy around your schedule.


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