With the cold winter months upon us, let’s take a minute to think about mental health. Introducing seasonal affective disorder, which, unbeknownst to you, might be the source of your current mental or emotional state. 

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression associated with the changing of seasons. Typically, it comes at the same time each year, starting in the fall, worsening through winter, and ending during the spring.


Between 4% and 6% of Americans face SAD. Within this population, 75% of sufferers are women. While onset most often occurs in early adulthood, SAD can occur in individuals of all ages. SAD is also more common among people who live in northern regions, as their winters are both longer and colder. 

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms

SAD symptoms include chronic low mood, irritability, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Moreover, neglecting these symptoms will solely worsen them. This is why you’ve got to act on your negative feelings! Doing so will provide you with the mental and emotional relieve that you need and deserve.Seasonal Affective Disorder

Covid-19’s impact on seasonal affective disorder

The chaos, stress, and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 certainly may contribute to and/or heighten SAD symptoms. That is, the raging pandemic has unsurprisingly led to increased stress, depression, fear, and anxiety. And research confirms just that. 

For instance, KFF Health Tracking Poll found that 53% of U.S. adults have felt that pandemic-related anxiety has had negative effects on their mental health. 

When compared to previous data, there’s a clear surge; in general, approximately one in four Americans experience mental disorders. Moreover, these numbers showed that 18% of people suffer from anxiety disorders each typical year. 

One study finds that some of the key causes of depression are isolation, loneliness, and a lack of social support. Additionally, a 2020 study on social isolation demonstrates that depressive symptoms are associated with a lack of social interaction as well as pairwise interactions instead of group connections. 

Considering our current lack of socialization ability and chronic stress, COVID-19 will likely not only increase one’s likelihood of experiencing SAD, but also intensify symptoms.

What can you do?

The most effective form of treating SAD consists of the same treatments of other types of depression: talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and antidepressants.

Additionally, researchers have found that light therapy may be effective. This involves the individual being exposed to what’s called a light-therapy box, which mimics natural sunlight. The result is that habitual exposure tricks the brain into thinking it’s actually not winter. Furthermore, the added light helps balance the chemicals associated with depression.

Other ways in which you can manage SAD symptoms are quite simple. For instance, Hartford Healthcare recommends regular exercise, natural sunlight, not overworking, maintaining regular sleep schedules, and sustaining a balanced diet. 

The most important step, though, is simply recognizing the problem. If you can’t do that, then you risk your SAD becoming more debilitating. 

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