BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It can sometimes be dismissed as just “winter blues,” but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is much more serious than just being sad.
“Much more intense, needs to be treated professionally by a mental health professional,” said clinical psychologist, Josh Klapow.
Usually brought on by fewer hours of daylight, symptoms can build up slowly.
“Experiencing what we call anhedonia, which means you can’t get interested in doing anything. You may be very sleepy, or you may not sleep at all, you may have thoughts of hopelessness and even have thoughts of suicide or that life is not worth living,” Klapow said.
It’s a lot like clinical depression, but only brought on by the changing of seasons, and usually in the fall and winter months. It’s treated with medication and sometimes psychotherapy, or cognitive therapy. In addition, doctors may also recommend light therapy, a light box that emits a certain wavelength of light that mimics sunlight.
The disorder can also put you in danger in other ways.
“Because you tend to be moving less, tend to not be eating as well, your appetite has been affected, your sleep has been affected, it can put you at risk for things like the common cold, flu, etc. because your body is not in a healthy state,” Klapow said.
That’s why it’s important to recognize symptoms early. If you’re not sure, go see your primary care doctor.
If you think you may just have the winter blues, experts suggest regulating your sleep, interacting with others during the day, eating nutritious food, and getting some exercise.