GREENVILLE — This time of year can prove challenging for many individuals, but especially those suffering from SAD or Seasonal Affect Disorder.
Jordan D. Francis, MPH, Director of Wellness Services for Wayne HealthCare, provided a few key signs, symptoms, and potential remedies during the Greenville Public Lunch and Learn on Wednesday. At the start, he noted that depression is a complicated disease, and SAD is a form of clinical depression that is typically seasonal, arising at the same time each year, generally in the fall.
So while the winter months may bring with it an increased appetite, lack of motivation, apathy, and general fatigue for many of us, SAD symptoms are persistent, nearly every day. It leads to feeling depleted, with low energy, sleep difficulties, concentration issues, feeling hopeless, even guilty. Other signs and symptoms may include frequent thoughts of death or nihilism, as well as sluggishness and agitation.
“Anyone hear of the term hangry?” asked Francis, softening the mood on a disease that comes with a confluence of factors. Noting that while SAD is more prevalent in the winter months, there are spring and summer SAD symptoms, including insomnia, poor appetite, anxiety, and agitation.
Risk factors to be aware of includes a family history, which is a significant contributor, as well as those already suffering from major depression or bipolar disorders.
Perhaps not surprising is the fact living far from the equator is a contributing factor—the lack of exposure to sunlight leading to interruptions in the circadian rhythm and serotonin and melatonin levels.
Research has shown, continued Francis, that sunlight plays a significant part in SAD with traditional treatments such as psychotherapy and medication, now includes phototherapy, also known as light therapy.
Also, while not wanting to “harp” on what can sometimes be difficult for depressed individuals to adhere to, lifestyle changes such as an exercise program or routine with the release of endorphins will help.
“Find wintertime activities that keep you engaged and active,” said Francis as those who suffer from SAD may withdraw socially, self-medicate, develop anxiety and eating disorders, and have thoughts of suicide.
“Know when you need help,” continued Francis pointing out it is normal to have down days but if patterns swing wildly, if there is a feeling of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide, “get help.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please call the Tri-County CRISIS Hotline, 800.351.7347.
The next Lunch and Learn will be held at noon on Wednesday, March 18, at the Greenville Public Library. Space is limited, and registration is required for lunch by calling 937/548-3915. Check out events and programs on their Facebook page @GreenvillePublicLibraryOhio.