Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by Behavioral Health Clinician Kallie Howell

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It typically occurs in the fall and continues into the winter months. Signs and symptoms may include feeling depressed often, experiencing low energy levels, issues with sleep, loss in interests, changes in weight or appetite, feelings of agitation, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of suicide, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt.

What should I do if I think I am experiencing SAD?

Schedule an appointment with a medical provider where they may do an evaluation which may include a physical examination, lab tests, or recommend that you meet with a behavioral health clinician for further evaluation. If SAD is diagnosed, then there are various treatment methods to explore, including: light therapy, medications, alternative medications, psychotherapy, mind-body connections, and lifestyle changes. Call the NHBP Health and Human Services Department to schedule an appointment at 269.729.4422.

An activity to aid in symptoms of SAD

The following is a behavioral activation activity to utilize if you are experiencing symptoms of SAD, or to maintain emotional stability during these cold and blue days. Think of it as putting your superhero CAPES on!

C– Closeness

A – Accomplishment

P– Physical Activity

E– Enjoyment

S– Sleep

The trick is to schedule an activity in each category the night before to alleviate anxiety, and to lessen depression with long-term use. Also, remember to make sure your actions are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reliable and Time specific.

An example of using CAPES:

Closeness – Call Monica tomorrow after work at 5:30 p.m. to check in, discuss future girl’s night in two weeks and finalize plans.

Accomplishment – Write check for consumer’s bill and place into mailbox.

Physical Activity – 10 jumping jacks in the morning before breakfast.

Enjoyment – Watch an episode of the Umbrella Kids on Netflix after dinner.

Sleep – Get in bed around 10 p.m., and turn the lights and television off around 10:30 p.m.


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