Is the Winter Season Making You Sick?
By Caitlin Boyle
Is winter season making you sick? Winter can be a wonderland, but it can also be a little dreary.
If you find yourself feeling sad around the same time of year every year, it may be more than the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, most commonly in the winter.
“Everyone experiences sadness from time to time, but SAD is a completely different animal,” explains Nicole Saunders, LCSW, a therapist and life coach in Charlotte, NC. “General sadness tends to be more circumstantial and transient; for example, you received a negative performance review at work that leaves you feeling down for a few days. On the other hand, symptoms of SAD are persistent and enduring, difficult to shake off, and cyclical in nature.”
Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, unhappiness or irritability; decreased energy; an inability to concentrate; loss of interest in work and hobbies; feelings of sluggishness; decreased concentration; and social withdrawal.
In contrast to other types of depression, which often trigger weight loss, SAD can cause increased appetite with weight gain, most likely due to eating a little extra comfort food. Women get SAD more often than men do, and people who live in places with long winter nights are more likely to be afflicted with SAD.