Posts Tagged ‘SAD’

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What You Should Know

The Holiday Season is known by many as a happy time. If you look around this time of year, more often than not you’ll find pictures of smiling faces, the sound of laughter on the radio, and episodes of television full of cheer. But for many others, the holiday season is the beginning of a time of low energy, difficulty sleeping, and major depression.

cold grey weather

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Seasonal Affective Disorder–the clinical term for seasonal depression–is a common occurrence in America, with over three million unique cases being reported each year. First formally recognized in 1984, Seasonal Affective Disorder is currently classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a recurrent major depressive disorder. As such, symptoms often include—but are by no means limited to—the feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness, having problems with sleep or appetite, and frequent pervasive depression, often punctuated by thoughts of death or suicide. Interestingly, however, the symptoms are brought on in autumn and often persist through the end of winter.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the specific cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder remains unknown. Theories range from a serotonin deficiency brought on by a drop in sunlight, to an imbalance in melatonin levels causing instabilities in mood, to a simple misalignment of your body’s circadian rhythm leading to an unstable sleep schedule and the feelings of depression that result. Regardless of the cause, the impact is far-reaching and tends to become widespread in more extreme latitudes.

Although the cause of the disorder remains unknown, diagnosis and treatment are well-known and effective. Seasonal Affective Disorder manifests in a number of ways unique from a typical depression diagnosis, including a hypersensitivity to rejection and a heavy, weighted feeling in the limbs. This, along with the unique timing of the disorder, has given clinicians the tools they need to effectively identify those who suffer from SAD, which in turn allows psychologists to properly address the issue.

Treatments of SAD tend to line up with the treatment of depression in general, including talk therapy and medication. However, due to the theories regarding the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a novel solution has presented itself in the form ofphototherapy, in which a light therapy box is used to expose your body to wavelengths of light that mimic the sun. According to the Mayo Clinic, exposure to such wavelengths of light seems to reverse many of the symptoms of SAD. Though research on the subject is limited, it appears to be an effective solution for many who suffer from seasonal depression.

Whatever the treatment, the important thing is to know that you’re not alone, and that treatments exist. If you suffer from seasonal depression, it is possible that you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and you don’t have to suffer alone. Contact us with any questions you may have. We’re here to help.



Summertime Blues – More than A Song

Summer is in full swing with fun activities keeping the schedule exciting and busy, but are you feeling down and constantly trying to catch up? Don’t worry. You are not alone! Many people experience the summer blues – formally called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is commonly experienced in the winter season, but can also be seen in the summer months. There are several symptoms to look for before you seek out help. These symptoms include:

Weight Loss

In the winter season, those who are depressed or have SAD generally gain weight. It is the opposite in summer. You may find you are not eating as regularly or as often as you did in the spring. If you are always on the go, finding the time to eat regularly is difficult. Try keeping snacks in the car or with you and eat smaller meals every couple of hours.


Stress can be a leading factor in how you feel. Worrying about bills and paying for extra summer activities causes stress to build up. Others expectations of a perfect summer can cause a large amount of stress on you. If you find yourself overwhelmed, make a calendar of bill payments, what day of the week is family night, and other commitments. Setting up a small routine can help reduce the stress in your life.


Are your continuous thoughts making it difficult to sleep? This is not uncommon in summertime SAD. With a chaotic schedule and the family going in different directions every day, it can be difficult to rest peacefully at night. Writing lists can help de-clutter your mind. Before you go to bed write down what is on your mind and leave it all on the paper.

If your symptoms get worse or do not seem to be letting up it may be time to seek out help. South Denver Psychotherapy offers depression counseling and can help you beat the summertime blues. We have the best psychologist in Denver and want to work with you! Stop on by or check us out at to get your summer started.

SAD in the Spring? It’s Not as Rare as You Think.

We’ve set our clocks forward, the days are getting longer, the snow and ice at higher elevations is starting to melt, and the signs of Spring abound!  If you are struggling with feelings of isolation or sadness, you may suffer from a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Although most people think of SAD as a condition that strikes only during the winter months, when cold temperatures and short days can darken your mood, the arrival of Spring can also bring on symptoms of depression.  Approximately ten percent of those with SAD experience reverse onset, developing depression during the Spring or Summer months.  If you or a loved one exhibits one or more of the following symptoms, please seek professional help from a doctor or therapist.

  • Loss of appetite
  • New or heightened anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of interest in social activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

Spring depression can feel particularly hard to overcome because so many people experience Spring as a joyous season of rebirth and celebration, increasing the sense of isolation.  “Why do I feel so sad when everyone else is so happy?” you may ask.  As Spring progresses, it becomes harder to brush off feelings of sadness as just “winter blues,” exacerbating thoughts of hopelessness.  It may even seem like nature itself is taunting you.  In fact, more suicides occur in the Spring than at any other time of year.

Just as a lack of light and warmth in the winter can contribute to SAD, too much light and hot weather may play a role in the Spring-Summer version of the condition.  Seasonal changes can affect levels of certain mood-influencing hormones, and the time change can interrupt the brain’s normal circadian rhythm.  Since many factors contribute to depression, the precise cause of springtime SAD remains unclear.

For minor cases of Spring SAD, doctors recommend keeping cool by relying on air conditioning and taking cool showers, closing curtains and blinds to reduce exposure to bright light, engaging in light exercise to boost endorphins, eating a healthy diet, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and taking part in social activities you would usually enjoy.  If you still feel depressed, or if your symptoms worsen, make an appointment for professional treatment.

South Denver Psychotherapy, LLC provides counseling services to help with all of your mental health problems.  Our therapists specialize in psychotherapy for women, men, couples, teens, and the GLBT community.  Let us give you the tools you need to live a better life.  Visit us or call us today at (303) 730-1144.

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