It has been a looooooooong winter in many parts of the United States. Cold days with diminished light can lead to depression, often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the depression is linked to a specific time of the year.
There is both winter and summer SAD. Winter SAD involves depression, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, heavy "leaden" feelings in the arms or legs, social withdrawal, oversleeping, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates, and weight gain. Summer SAD is characterized with anxiety like Winter SAD, but the other symptoms tend to be the opposite: trouble sleeping, irritability, agitation, weight loss, poor appetite, and increased sex drive.
How do you know if you have SAD? A professional might ask you a series of questions to determine if your mood is due to the weather and/or light changes. If you are not ready to see a professional, you might try a few home remedies. For winter SAD, try opening window shades to let light in, trimming tree branches that block light coming into your home or work place, getting outside, and exercising regularly. For summer SAD, make sure you have a cool place to relax such as a swimming hole or air conditioned space, exercise outside in the mornings before the hottest part of the day, and drink plenty of water.
If home remedies don’t help, you might speak to a professional about medication and alternative therapies. Remember, most medications for depression take a long time to integrate into the body and to stop taking the medication, individuals are advised to do so under a doctor’s supervision (in other words, if your depression is linked to a small period of time, you might not be a good candidate for a longer-term therapy). Talk with your doctor about what treatment is right for you.
To cope, don’t forget to stick to your treatment plan, socialize, take time out to de-stress, take a trip if possible, and remember, most people are affected by the environment around them; you are not alone!
For more on this topic visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047