As the world turns and the seasons change, many people find themselves temporarily experiencing symptoms of depression that last throughout a season. People with this seasonal depression usually have what is known as seasonal affective disorder, commonly abbreviated as SAD.
Treatment is an option for people experiencing SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Different forms of psychotherapy, light therapy, and in some cases medication can help mitigate symptoms. Read on to learn more about SAD and to decide if treatment through The Phoenix Recovery & Counseling Centers may be right for you or a loved one.
While many people experience the winter blues or doldrums, particularly when there are fewer hours of light during the day or after the excitement of the holidays is over, SAD is different. In fact, seasonal affective disorder doesn’t always occur during the winter or when there’s a lack of light outside; some of the people diagnosed with it have symptoms in the spring and summer instead of in fall or winter.
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression; it is not considered a separate disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. People who receive a diagnosis of seasonal depression display the same symptoms as those with major depression, but the timing coincides with a season and then the symptoms disappear when the season changes. Seasonal mood disorder, seasonal anxiety disorder, and seasonal depressive disorder are other names people sometimes use when referring to SAD.
The exact cause of seasonal affective depressive disorder is unknown and can vary from person to person. However, research suggests several things that occur with the changing of the seasons could be among the seasonal affective disorder causes:
At the same time, several risk factors for SAD have also been observed, according to PubMed.gov:
Most seasonal depression symptoms are the same as those of major depression but last for a shorter period of time, coinciding with either late fall and winter or early spring and summer.
Additional symptoms differ depending on in which season someone experiences seasonal affective disorder, or which of the two SADs they experience, according to Mayo Clinic:
People with SAD can do several things to try to manage their symptoms, according to the American Psychological Association. Some ideas include getting as much light from the sun as possible, eating healthy foods, spending time with family and friends, and staying active with hobbies and exercise. While these things can help with some of the symptoms, sometimes it becomes necessary to get professional help.
A mental health professional can diagnose seasonal affective disorder and develop a treatment plan for addressing it. As with chronic major depression and other mood disorders, therapy and medication can be effective in treating SAD, though it can take some time to work through therapy and to find the right medication. For this reason, it’s important to seek help for SAD early on if possible so you can have an action plan in place before symptoms become severe.
Light therapy and Vitamin D supplements are also common forms of treatment for fall and winter seasonal affective disorder because they can help make up for the deficit in sunshine a person experiences in the winter. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light box that produces bright light meant to mimic the light of the sun. The goal is for the light to stimulate the brain’s circadian clock and help activate the process in the brain that creates melatonin. However, many people do not respond to light therapy and Vitamin D alone; therapy and medication are often combined with light therapy and Vitamin D.
The Phoenix Recovery and Counseling Centers are equipped and ready to help those who are struggling with seasonal affective disorder. The Phoenix has a range of treatment options that are tailored to each individual on a case-by-case basis to help bring about successful outcomes. Depending on a patient’s situation, they may be placed in one the following treatment programs: Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) Day Program, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), or General Outpatient Program (GOP). If a case warrants Residential Treatment in order to provide stabilization, we connect patients with one of our residential treatment facility partners.
The Phoenix Difference means no effort is spared in our work to give patients and their families the applied behaviors and knowledge that can help them succeed in spite of their mental health disorders and build a meaningful life. Our therapeutic, healing recovery experience is supported by research and is adjusted to each patient’s individual needs.
The work of each of the Phoenix Recovery and Counseling Centers is guided by the following mission statement: “Empowering individuals and families suffering from addiction and mental health disorders, to celebrate life through lasting solutions.” To help in achieving our mission, we offer several treatment programs to suit different patient needs: Residential Treatment, Day Treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and General Outpatient (GOP). Our alumni can also find ongoing recovery support through our weekly Alumni Support Meetings.