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S.A.D : what is it, how do I recognize it , and what can I do?

Have you ever felt like during the winter times and colder months all of a sudden you become extremely sad? When the sun goes down earlier does it make you want to sleep more? Do you find yourself wanting to spend more time alone and less time socializing with others than you normally would? Have you ever wondered why?

The end of the year is always a time of year that is accompanied with great joy but also plagued with sadness.  The overall pressure of the holidays can cause a mental breakdown and a myriad of other emotionally triggering events that go along with them simply do not help. For example, I know Thanksgiving and Christmas have been extra hard for my mother ever since my granny passed away. My mom will  be having the best time playing board games and spending quality time with us and then without warning I’ll watch as her mind remembers and her entire spirit changes. There are people struggling financially, and there is an  unfortunate reality that many people die during the end of the year. OH, don’t let me forget that it is FREEZING!!!!! If you live outside of California you probably think I’m overreacting, but I HATE THE COLD. Lastly, as the year closes you realize a new year is coming and that once again you let the year fly by without accomplishing what you aimed.  These factors among others, make the winter months a trigger for depression.

In fact, there is a mental disorder associated with being sad during the winter. To make myself clear, in no way am I saying that you have a mental illness if you related to anything I said above, BUT you might. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD) is a depression that occurs during  certain times of the year and is most common, but not limited to, the fall and winter months. Some of the symptoms that are most prevalent in winter SAD are hibernating, gluttony, sleeping more, low energy, and weight gain.

To be clinically diagnosed with SAD, someone must already be diagnosed with depression. Although SAD is specific to seasons, simply staying inside during the winter and not being as engaged could just mean … its too damn cold. However, if someone already is experiencing depressive symptoms more days than not during the regular calendar year, they can be diagnosed as having seasonal affective disorder. If after reading this article you feel that you may be experiencing severe symptoms of SAD make sure to reach out to your support circles and if possible, seek professional health. Many companies offer therapy at no or low cost to their employees and organizations like the YWCA and Bill Wilson may be able to connect you to providers who take clients in on a sliding scale . Ultimately, during this cold holiday season, be sure to look out for your mental health needs. You are the expert of your situation.