Posted: Jan 23, 2013 10:30 AM
Learn about the signs and symptoms of this common disorder that effects many women (and men and children too!) during the dark, gray months of winter. And, use these tips for helping to find your way out of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is SAD?

You've probably heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder without really knowing what it was. Or, maybe you've kidded with your girlfriends about how you need to get away this winter to get some "sun on your bones" to help improve your mood. SAD, as it's commonly abbreviated, is a reality for many women, as well as men and children. It typically occurs in the darker months, such as winter, and results in feelings that seem to mimic depression. According to experts, the true cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown. However, it is determined that you are at higher risk to suffer from SAD if you already suffer from other forms of depression and/or live in an area that has a significant reduction in daylight hours during the winter.

How do I know if I have it?

Do any (or many) of these symptoms sound familiar during the wintertime?

  • Feelings of isolation or the urge to be on your own all of the time: If you're finding yourself skipping out on book club every single week or cancelling your longstanding plans with your best mom friends on a consistent basis... just because you want to stay home, it may be a red flag.
  • An increased appetite, particularly for carbs: Unlike other forms of depression where you oftentimes lose your appetite, SAD increases your desire for food. And, with those increased meals comes increased weight.
  • Moody, irritable, unhappy, sluggish: All are telltale signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially if these feelings don't have a basis behind them (a job loss, or a child who you're fretting over) and seem to be new as the sun starts going down earlier in the day.
  • Tired all of the time, sleeping more than usual: We know that you're a mom and you are likely lacking sleep already, but the strong urge to suddenly hibernate points to the possibility of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate: Again, concentration is the last thing a mom has in her skill box, especially if you have little ones at home, but the loss of concentration, when you typically don't have an issue staying focused is something to keep an eye on.

Please take note^The signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are very similar to those of other health related issues. Please consult your doctor if you think that you are suffering from SAD.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately, there is not an exact way to cure Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, the first step in managing it during the winter months is recognizing that you may have it and scheduling a time to talk to your doctor.

To help keep Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay, make sure you are getting enough exercise, fresh air and healthy foods during the winter, when SAD may set in. While oversleeping is a symptom of this disorder, getting enough rest is also important, particularly getting to bed around the same time each night to help establish good sleeping habits. In some cases, as determined by a doctor, light therapy is used to help SAD sufferers make it through the most severe months. But it is not proven effective for everyone.

Don't forget, your husband and children can also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. If they are showing recognizable signs and symptoms, please visit their doctor.

Lastly, if you are a mom who is struggling with SAD, ask for help from the people around you during the times of the year when you know your symptoms will be at their worst.

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