Seasonal Affective Disorder is a Thing

January is a tough month. No matter where you live, it’s probably cold. Your credit card bills from the holidays are in. There are a lot of work days to go until Memorial Day.

For many people, this is right about the time that SAD is in high gear. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a type of depression that some people get when the seasons change. It’s not strictly a winter thing. Most people with SAD start to feel it in late fall, but some experience it in the warmer months. 

How it Feels

SAD usually isn’t as debilitating as major depression, but it can zap your energy and put you in a bad mood. It may also make your arms and legs feel heavy -- and not just because you had too many cookies over the holidays. You may feel hopeless, have a hard time concentrating, and stop giving a shit about things you used to love.

It’s Not Just You

About 10 million Americans deal with SAD. Three out of four of those Americans are women. SAD strikes between the ages of 18-30 and is more common in colder climates.

How to Deal

Just because your SAD symptoms will go away when the seasons change doesn’t mean you should stick it out. We only get so many days in life, and spending a quarter or half of the year in a funk isn’t cool.  

You have options:

  • Phototherapy. You can buy a really cool light therapy box for under $100. Just don’t lie down in a tanning bed no matter what they claim. That is how you get cancer.

  • Therapy. You can find one on HelpPro.com

  • Medication. I’m not sure I’d try an SSRI for something seasonal, because it is a bitch to get off of them. But I’ve learned to trust doctors.

  • Move to California. I wish I was kidding. One of my best friends is doing this partly due to her partners’ SAD symptoms. #LoveWins

When to Call a Pro

If your sleep patterns or appetite have changed significantly or your mood has affected your work or relationships, you should talk to a doctor. And, this is the golden rule of mental health: If you want to die, you need to get help ASAP. You can call the good people of the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or get real-time support.