The Truth Behind Seasonal Depression: How Do You Know if You Have It?

Emily Abbate This Just In

depressed womanIt's that time of year again: 4:30 p.m. hits and it's practically pitch-black outside. The second you step into the darkness, the cold wind hits your cheeks and you attempt burying into your biggest puffer jacket. So many of us lack any motivation to do any fit activity because, well, getting to the gym means braving the elements. And on cue -- it hits: seasonal depression. The moodiness, the crankiness, the overall lack of drive.

Called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this type of depression typically affects a person during the same season each year. Do you think that perhaps you're dealing with some seasonal depression? Do yourself a favor and read everything you need to know about seasonal depression, here:

1. Anyone can have it: SAD can affect anyone, but it's more common in women than men. Additionally, SAD is most common in people ages 15 to 55, those who live in areas where winter days are short, and also people who have a close relative with the disorder.

2. Risk goes down with age: The risk of getting SAD for the first time goes down as you get older.

3. The symptoms: If you have SAD, the symptoms are as following: losing interest in usual activities, feeling grumpy, moody, anxious, a craving for carbohydrates, weight gain, and an increased amount of sleep. Sounds like things that affect just about everyone you know during the holidays, right?

4. Determining if it's SAD: Clearly, SAD has a lot of the same "symptoms" as regular depression. You'll know it's seasonal if it occurs at the exact same time every year and then gets better when the seasons change.

5. The treatment: Most doctors prescribe light therapy to treat SAD. The good news? Those that use light therapy generally start to feel better within a week or so. The catch? Sticking with it! Those affected with SAD may also seek out counseling or be prescribed antidepressants.

Have you ever dealt with seasonal depression? What did you do to combat it?

 

Image via Christoffer Askman/Corbis

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