According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 300 million people around the world suffer from depression. Though at a much smaller number, about 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is an episode of depression that occurs during specific seasons. The majority of people with SAD start to feel the effects in the fall, with symptoms persisting through the winter. Though less common, some develop SAD in the spring and summer months.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you’ve noticed that you tend to feel symptoms of depression at specific times of the year, you may be suffering from seasonal depression. While true that many people experience an affected mood in the winter due to a lack of Vitamin D, if you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed here, for an extended period, you should seek a medical diagnosis:
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling depressed all day, nearly every day
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Lack of interest in things you enjoy
- Sleep issues
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Feeling agitated or sluggish
- Feeling helpless or worthless
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms for an extended period of time, but only during certain seasons, seek the help of a medical professional to help with diagnosis and possible treatment. If you are diagnosed with SAD, you’ll know it’s important to seek the help of a therapist for treatment of your symptoms.
How Can A Therapist Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
It is recommended that SAD be treated in the same way as depression is treated. This means anti-depression medications may be prescribed, and cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to treat the underlying causes of the seasonal depression.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works in two different ways: first, by focusing on your cognitive functions in relation to SAD, then by addressing the behaviors that cause or perpetuate the symptoms. Basically, CBT is a type of treatment that focuses on the belief that the way we think and behave affects the way we feel. So, if we address these thoughts and behaviors, our feelings of depression will improve.
If you choose to work with a therapist and their method of treatment is CBT, you’ll likely work with them to uncover the negative thoughts that are causing your feelings, and go through exercises that will teach you how to avoid these negative thoughts, or change them into positive ones.
Similarly, you’ll work on behaviors that lead to feeling depressed, and work towards changing these behaviors. For example, if you feel depression that is partially caused by isolation and loneliness, then certain behaviors, such as avoiding social situations, can lead to depression. If you address this behavior by making an effort to socialize, you’ll reduce the feelings of loneliness and possibly lessen the feelings of depression.
With the combination of avoiding negative thoughts, and the implementation of positive behaviors, you’ll be addressing some of the causes of your seasonal depression, thereby reducing the symptoms.
Schedule a Session at Thriveworks McDonough
It’s important to remember that depression, and therefore SAD, is a mental health condition that affects your brain. CBT is a powerful type of treatment for helping to relieve symptoms and give you the tools you need to work through depressive episodes, but there is no cure for depression or SAD. Seasonal affective disorder will disappear once the season has passed but for relief of symptoms during the affected period, Thriveworks McDonough counseling for seasonal affective disorder is a great option. Schedule an appointment with us today! Call 678-853-5849.