Feeling SAD?

Changing seasons and holidays can result in other changes …

Daylight savings ends, bringing an extra hour of sleep (at least for one day) and a little extra sunlight in the morning—but it sure gets dark early.

For me, the first thing I notice is that I have one fewer hour to let the kids play outside. One fewer hour to go for a run before it’s dark … so treadmill it is. Sometimes I feel as if I miss the sun altogether after sitting inside all day at work, just to get home as the sun is setting.

For some, the shortening of the day and the increased dark have a significant effect. This impact is related to something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. You may have heard the term or know someone—perhaps even yourself—who really struggles when the season changes and loss of sunlight occurs.

In fact, SAD is a kind of depression. Individuals with SAD may experience symptoms such as social withdrawal, loss of enjoyment in normal interests, lack of energy, increased sleep, or thoughts of suicide.  This depression may also be experienced with those with bipolar disorder.

And then there are the holidays. Here they come like a freight train, with stress often along for the ride. Holidays can be like daylight savings—having both pros and cons. Holidays are built up to be wonderful, happy times spent with family and friends. Holidays can be filled with joy and happiness, but they can also be a difficult time for many people.

In such instances, the holidays may serve as reminders of loss or of what we wish we could be celebrating—all the while surrounded by pressure to be happy and enjoy the season.

If you or someone you know could use additional support through this time of year, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family or other support. Please know there are people and places that can help.

Brooke Brown
Clinical Director, Mental Health Outpatient Services
Diakon Family Life Services

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