The wintertime can be a great time for the holidays and spending time with family. People seem happy and can have fun opening gifts and eating food together. For some, the wintertime can feel lonely and cold. Some people who may have negative thoughts and feelings about wintertime may have seasonal affective disorder.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder can also be referred to as SAD. SAD is when an individual is experiencing recurring major depression with a seasonal pattern (Melrose, 2015). In other words, an individual may experience depression during certain times of the year. The experiences for SAD can be different for everyone.

Symptoms of SAD

Some symptoms of SAD may vary among individuals. Symptoms of loneliness, isolation, lack of sleep, low energy, and change in behavior can be signs of SAD. These symptoms can also mirror depression.

How to seek help

Some ways to seek out help could be calling and setting up an appointment with your doctor. The doctor can go over the different options of treatment for SAD. By doing this, your doctor can refer you to different types of counseling that can help you in the best way possible or go over medications that may be helpful for SAD.

Treatment options for SAD

Treatment options include antidepressants, light therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It may be best to combine the treatment options for individuals who may be suffering with more severe cases of SAD.

Antidepressants can be used to treat SAD. Antidepressants can help treat SAD by balancing chemicals in the brain to help the brain function. It is important to work with your doctor to make sure to choose an antidepressant that works for you. For individuals who may not want to take a medication to treat SAD, there are other options that may work best for them.

For some, lack of sunlight may be a result of SAD. Light therapy can help treat SAD by using light boxes. Light boxes can be purchased that emit light similar to sunlight (Melrose, 2015). Certain medications may not be taken if an individual is using light therapy. It is important for individuals to know the risks of using this type of therapy by talking to your doctor.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT can help change the way that an individual is thinking. In one study, two 90-minute sessions of CBT per week was as effective as 30 minutes of light therapy each morning (Melrose, 2015). It is important for the therapist to come up with a treatment plan that best fits their clients, treatment can look differently between individuals who may be suffering with the same type of disorders.

Seasonal affective disorder can affect individuals differently. It is important to talk to your doctor to get the help you need. Some types of treatments are antidepressants and different types of therapy. Knowing the different treatment options will help determine what type of treatment is right for you.

Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2015/178564