Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually develops during the fall and winter months. For women with existing mental health issues, it can be a devastating issue.
For most sufferers, seasonal affective disorder typically occurs in fall and winter. Symptoms include depression, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, weight grain, increased hunger or constant fatigue. SAD occurs more frequently among women than men, making it an important topic in Brookhaven Retreat’s residential program during the winter months.
Seasonal affective disorder may be caused by a lack of sunlight, which interferes with production of serotonin, a chemical that affects mood. Unlike typical depression, seasonal affective disorder occurs during the same season each year and resolves itself as the seasons change.
Both antidepressants and cognitive behavior therapy help women manage the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Therapy especially can help women change the negative thought processes and behaviors that influence mood. When women learn to shift thoughts positively and stick to a routine that supports physical and mental health, seasonal affective depression improves.
Many women with seasonal affective disorder suffer from major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. Identifying seasonal patterns to these disorders affects treatment plans. When women understand the nature of their emotional issues, they are able to create a successful plan for continued wellness. In December, Brookhaven Retreat cautions women to be vigilant of their emotional health and to participate in outdoor and social activities that encourage joy and wellness.