Q: I often get the winter blues. Could I have seasonal affective disorder?
A: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more than just a seasonal funk. It’s a type of clinical depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically beginning in the late fall or early winter, and easing up in spring or summer. Although much less common, some people experience symptoms in the spring or early summer.
Like other types of depression, SAD is not a casual diagnosis. It can make you reel intensely sad, hopeless and helpless. Winter episodes might also make you feel sluggish, sleep more than usual, withdraw socially, overeat or gain weight.
If you experience symptoms like these for two weeks or longer, and especially if you are having thoughts of death or suicide, it is time to talk with your health professional. The good news is that SAD is treatable and the earlier treatment starts, the more likely it is to be effective.
Light therapy, behavioral therapy, vitamin D and other medications are effective. Also, regular exercise can help as does support from friends and family. So in addition to reaching out to your doctor, reach out to the people around you who can lift your spirits. Remember, SAD is a serious condition and I want you to get the help you deserve.
(Source: AARP Medicare Supplement Plan newsletter)