Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)



By Stacey Tuttle

During these winter months, it’s dark, it’s cold, and finding the motivation to get out of bed is difficult. For some, this lack of motivation may actually be a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD is a type of depression that is related to the changing of the seasons, with winter SAD typically beginning in the fall and ending in the spring. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms for winter SAD might include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then please know that you are not alone!  These feelings are common, and we have some advice for how to find remedies to SAD in your everyday life.

1) Bring more light into your environment. Expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible, either by going outside or opening more shades and blinds around your house.  If it’s possible, make some renovations to your home to increase sunlight access, such as adding skylights or trimming branches that block windows. You can also discuss the possibility of using a light therapy box with your doctor.

2) Spend more time outdoors. Take your dog for a walk, go for a run, sit outside for lunch on your work break. Even on cloudy days, being outside may help alleviate SAD symptoms.

3) Socialize. Talking and interacting with others regularly is very important during these colder winter months. It may be difficult to reach out to others when you’re feeling down, but your loved ones and friends can give you support in a variety of ways and help to lift your mood.

4) Exercise. According to Mayo Clinic, exercising helps to alleviate anxiety and stress, which are symptoms associated with SAD.  And, of course, there is an added benefit in improving your physical health as well!

5) Take a trip. Go somewhere warm and sunny!  This will give you a break from the freezing temperatures and also give you an opportunity to relax.

6) Learn stress management techniques.  Mindfulness meditation, yoga, pet therapy… all of these stress management methods may help with SAD.

The most important thing to remember as mother nature brings wind and snow to your doorstep is that it is normal to experience SAD, but you should take steps early to manage your symptoms and boost your mental health!  If you feel as though the methods above are still not helping your symptoms, then be sure to see a doctor to talk about options for treatment.

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Retrieved from 


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