As we move full swing into the holiday season, I found myself thinking about the training I used to receive in the military. We always seemed to focus a lot on depression and suicide prevention this time of the year. So I decided to do a little research to see if Seasonal Blues or Seasonal Depression is real or some made up thing by the pharmaceutical companies to sell us more pills.
Well, I discovered Seasonal Depression is indeed a real medical condition. I always thought my sadness during this time of year had more to do with missing my family, the lack of sunshine, and the ridiculous increase in sugar in my daily diet. During my recent bi-annual checkup with my Primary Care Provider at the VA, I found out that my Vitamin D levels were considerably low – another contributing factor to sadness and low energy levels.
While all these things did contribute to my seasonal sadness, there are additional symptoms you need to be aware of in case you think you may possibly suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, no pun intended – that’s the real medical term for this disorder). The list below compares the differences between major depression and SAD (also called winter depression):
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless Tiredness or low energy
- Having low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Having problems with sleeping
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
While there is less sunshine during these shorter winter days, and there will definitely be carb-heavy, sugar-laden menu items at the many holiday parties and get-togethers you will attend, be mindful if you find yourself feeling down, sad or depressed. Take note of your symptoms and see your doctor. Don’t just brush these feelings off as ‘no big deal’ or ‘I’ll get over this’ – while this may be true, there is no need to chance that. #BattleBuddy make your health a priority – more importantly, make your mental health and mental well-being a priority. I learned my low energy level and fatigue was partly the result of a lack of Vitamin D during my doctor visit. I am thankful my condition improved with a prescription, now I will commit (even more so) to take my multivitamin and supplements as we head into winter. That’s easy – now to master the art of saying NO to Christmas cookies!
#SeasonalBlues #SAD #WinterDepression