Overcoming the Winter Blues

With the cold months of winter beginning, a feeling of melancholy is upon us. The diminishing sunlight can leave some feeling unhappy and lethargic.


We met with Cameron Psychiatry’s Tricia Bowerman, MS, LMHC, LMFT, to talk about the phenomenon known as seasonal affective disorder.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a mood disorder in which depressive symptoms change with the seasons. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most days during the season
  • Sadness
  • Reduced energy
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of interest and motivation in activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness/hopelessness
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Craving fatty foods or carbohydrates
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fatigue

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

Bowerman says the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unknown, but there are many potential factors that can contribute:  

  • Changes in the body’s internal clock due to seasonal changes
  • Reduced levels of serotonin
  • Imbalance in melatonin, which influences sleep and mood patterns
  • Vitamin D insufficiency

How is seasonal affective disorder different than depression?

Seasonal affective disorder and depression have similar symptoms, but seasonal affective disorder only happens during specific seasons. Doctors can distinguish seasonal affective disorder from depression by the timing of the symptoms at the change of seasons, whereas depression can happen at any time of the year.

What treatment is available?

The experts at Cameron recommend a variety of treatment options available for seasonal affective disorder. Light therapy mimics outdoor light, which can cause a chemical change in the brain and lift moods. Other treatments include medications and talk therapy.

When should you seek help?

You should seek help if symptoms are interfering with daily activities or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Cameron is here to help. Visit Cameron Psychiatry’s website to more and schedule an appointment.



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