Feeling SAD? Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
By Ashley Kromrey
Maybe you are having more than just a case of the Monday’s. Or is it the winter blues? It’s that time of year when we start to feel melancholy and maybe lack motivation. The change in months from fall to winter affects individuals differently, and for the growing population, this mild depressive state is experienced by over half a million people. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a type of depression directly related to changes in climate between September and April, which peaks specifically through December, January, and February. This disorder is an effect of the seasonal light variation between seasons. There is a shift in our “internal biological clocks” due to changes in sunlight patterns, causing sufferers to feel out of sync. Another factor for depression during these months is the hormone melatonin. This a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It is known to rapidly produce when it’s dark, hence less amounts of daylight make us feel more lethargic.
Emily Krause, a counselor at Hudson River Care and Counseling explained, “Commonly people complain of feeling more tired, low in mood and energy, as well as feelings of greater stress. Other clients notice an increase in carbohydrate cravings, overeating, weight gain is more noticeable within the winter months.” Other common symptoms can be anxiety, mood changes, sleep problems, sexual problems: loss of libido and decreased interest in physical contact, and social problems: irritability and desire to avoid social contact. Krause stressed, “It is importance to making social connections and time to cultivate supports and friendship during the winter months, to resist isolating and negative thoughts that won’t let go. At our office we create a safe and comfortable environment to connect and relax while looking at issues together”.
Studies have shown that three out of four SAD sufferers are women. SAD is mostly prevalent in adults 18 and 30 years of age.Those who suffer in the NJ/NY area can seek help for their symptoms at Hudson River Care and Counseling. “In the Northeast it is estimated by some studies that as many as 1 in 10 people have symptoms of SAD. With longer work days in the office and less time outdoors during this season, our practice has seen more cases. Taking a lunch break to soak in a little sun and taking a walk around the block may help to lift lowered moods,” said Krause. With a trained counselor to track the seasonal pattern, our team can work to minimize symptoms through cognitive therapy, light treatment, diet, exercise, and medication (depending on the individual). New clients can see a clinician from their office within a week. Krause explained, “It’s important to be responsive to the disorder and ask for help if you are experiencing seasonal depression symptoms. Our counselors can guide you in the process and find a treatment that is right for you.”
Hudson River Care and Counseling offers two locations- Hoboken and Englewood, New Jersey. 201-541-8600.