Identifying and managing seasonal depression

Identifying and managing seasonal depression
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - As the winter months creep closer, the days are getting shorter, and local mental health experts say that can trigger seasonal affective disorder — also known as seasonal depression.

“It’s really characterized by having depression symptoms during a certain time of the year, meaning it starts around the same time and ends around the same time for that person,” Easterseals’ Emily Reidford said.

Reidford says most people who suffer from seasonal depression experience symptoms in the fall and winter.

That’s due to the lack of sunlight and colder temperatures.

“When there’s less light and it’s darker during the day in those months, you have an increase in melatonin, which usually makes people feel sleepier, more lethargic,” Reidford said.

Other symptoms include a general feeling of sadness, changes in your eating patterns and an inconsistent sleep schedule.

Reidford says any type of depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, but it’s hard to say where it comes from.

She says either the chemical imbalance causes the depression, or the other way around, and the depression causes the imbalance.

Either way, Reidford says there are treatments available.

“I always encourage people to talk to their doctor about phototherapy or light therapy, it’s kind of just as it sounds. It’s a big bright light you can use in your office or in your home. That will help about 85% of people experiencing true seasonal affective disorder,” Reidford said.

If that doesn’t work, she says to keep an eye on your diet and exercise.

She says you can also talk to your doctor about medication.

If you think you might be suffering from seasonal depression, Reidford recommends you track when you start feeling symptoms of depression, and when they stop.

That will help identify whether it’s seasonal depression, and also help you prepare for it in the future.