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Midwest Season Changes Leaving You SAD?

It’s undeniable that the changing of the seasons are often accompanied by beautiful moments. The changing color of the leaves, the twinkling of a fresh snowfall and the sparkling illumination of holiday decorations to name a few. Despite all of the beauty that the colder seasons have to offer, it’s normal to find yourself increasingly sad and withdrawn as we begin to enter the colder months, what’s most commonly referred to as the “winter blues.” Darkness starts to greet us sooner, we have less opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, frigid temperatures begin and we feel a lot more cooped up than usual. However, if you’ve noticed that these symptoms have become more troublesome and may be impacting your daily life, you may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depressive disorder that typically begins during the fall and winter months and dissipates during the spring and summer months. There’s also a summer pattern seasonal affective disorder, although it’s much less common. The National Institute of Mental Health classifies seasonal affective disorder with the symptoms listed below:

Symptoms of major depression may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Low energy

  • Feeling hopeless or worthless

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

For winter-pattern SAD, additional specific symptoms may include:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia)

  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates

  • Weight gain

  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)

On top of any of these symptoms that you may be having, we’re still adjusting to the additional stress of a global pandemic and the feeling of being “cooped up” seems all too familiar. So what do we do now?

Prioritizing your mental wellness as we continue to navigate Covid and adjust to the changing seasons is so important. Whether your comfort level is in-person or virtually, schedule time to meet and catch up with family and friends, volunteer for a local organization, make sure you’re eating enough and getting enough sleep and try to stay active. However, depressive disorders aren’t always “preventable” and sometimes contrary to your best laid plans, you may start feeling “not like yourself” or maybe a “little off.”

Finding support as soon as you recognize that you may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder is imperative. Seeing a therapist, voicing your concerns to a physician/psychiatrist, joining a support group and identifying your support network are just a few ways you can access support for yourself. Above all else, remember that what you’re feeling is completely normal and that with treatment, your symptoms will likely improve. However, if you find yourself having thoughts of wanting to harm yourself, you can access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting the word HELLO to 741741. You can also seek immediate assistance by calling 911 or proceeding to your nearest emergency room.

So as we continue to inch closer to the warmer months continue to practice the gift that keeps on giving - prioritizing your mental health. Don’t forget to check-in on your family and friends too and above all else, relish in all the beauty that Winter and the holidays have to offer.

For more information about the services that Blackberry Counseling Center has to offer, feel free to email or call (217) 471-4229.

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