Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder or “winter blues”, is a period of time when people do not feel like their normal selves. It is a particular disorder that is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder. Seasonal depression (SAD) usually occurs because of a change in the seasons. Most symptoms normally start in the late fall or the early winter months. These months are associated with daylight savings time which means less sunlight. Less sunlight may reduce an individual’s serotonin levels which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. Research has shown that lower levels of serotonin have been correlated with depression. For most cases, seasonal affective disordersymptoms go away in the spring and or summer. However, some people may begin not feeling like themselves when spring or summer arrives. Those individuals experience summer-pattern SAD which is actually less common.
My Experience with Seasonal Depression
Personally my seasonal affective disorder creeps into my life during the first and or second week of November. I experience insomnia more often. I usually cannot get to sleep until a little past 3 am. As a result, I become less driven to get up out of bed in the mornings, especially when the days are overcast. I wake-up slightly irritated when I finally do crawl out of the bed. However, some mornings are better than others when the sun shines through the windows. I can be a bit lethargic and find it hard to get motivated.
Some days I am a hard book to read but for the sake of my kids, do my best to cover it up. My husband knows when I am draped in depression. He does everything to help me so I can care for myself and our kids. Yet, sometimes the load can be overwhelming. As a newbie content creator, influencer, blogger, I have an extensive list of to do’s. That list can make me overwhelmed. Thus making it hard for me to handle stress. The stress eases up after a good cry which I experience just about every other day. That good cry comes between 2-3pm. That is when my mood takes a turn.
By the afternoon, I am full of energy and feel as if I can conquer the remainder of my day. The feelings from earlier in the day do a 180 degree turn. A manic rush comes over me. I push to complete a major amount of task from my to-do list. The self-esteem that I did not have from earlier fills me. At times, I may add more task on my list for the evening to prove to myself that I can handle the stress. My energy level goes up to a level that concerns me in my thought pattern.
My husband gets concerned as well and usually tells me take a breather so I don’t go overboard. If I do go overboard, I have another crying spell for about 20 minutes. Thankfully I my husband and a friend I can call on when things reach that level! I engage in much needed self-care after my children fall asleep. My mood is regulated and I feel like my normal self.
My Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder resemble those of other types of depression. At times it can be hard to determine if a person is experiencing seasonal affective disorder or another type of depression. Personally, I experience a variety of symptoms outside of my normal depression. First and foremost, the extreme changes in my mood make me aware that I have seasonal affective disorder. I also experience insomnia, hopelessness, agitation, and increased anxiety from stress. The symptoms I experience fall in line with those found on numerous mental health medical sites. Every person who experiences seasonal affective disorder, may have similar or different symptoms. Symptoms range from mild to severe.
My Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder
When seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed early, treatment and coping skills can have major benefits. I was first diagnosed with SAD in November 2019. It was no surprise to me when I found out that the change of the season would affect my depression and anxiety more. Having experienced PPD after two earth-side births, it was to be expected. Personally, the forms of treatment I use are antidepressant medication, talk therapy, and vitamin D. I specifically take the medication Prozac. I talk to my therapist twice a week during the SAD months. In addition, I have taken on new coping skills for the upcoming months. I have started journaling with prompts, taking a drive for 60 minutes to a new location, crying to release the depression, and meditating. Just as symptoms vary, treatments vary depending on the severity of symptoms.
A Message of Support to Others Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
For anyone who may be experiencing SAD, know that you are not alone in it. I am another soul managing SAD in this huge world. For anyone who may think they are experiencing SAD, reach out to a medical professional. There are effective forms of treatment for the symptoms you may be experiencing. Nonetheless, I am proof that you can stay the course. When the world feels like it may be crumbling underneath my feet, I take on the strength God gives me to press forward.
I imagine a positive outlook for those days. Even when the world feels like a manic dream, I take on the strength God gives me to press forward. I imagine a calm and beautiful outlook for those days. During the months when I experience seasonal effective disorder, I know that the good days outweigh the bad days. I know that the treatments I use allow me to experience more good days. For in the midst of the unbearable lows and the extreme highs, I know that this too shall pass. I hope the same for you, SAD or not.