September often marks a big transition–the end of summer, the start of a new school year and shorter daylight hours. While some people look forward to all things pumpkin spiced and sweatshirt weather returning, others approach this change with genuine concern.

Unfortunately, this year, coupled with the continued social distancing, we anticipate it being difficult for more people than usual. However, there is a group of people that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that will likely be even more challenged this year. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Most people with SAD, have symptoms that start in the fall and continue into the winter months. They report a loss in energy enhanced moodiness. 

The Mayo Clinic cites the following signs of SAD symptoms:
  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy
Here are some simple steps you can take to help yourself cope with SAD:
  • Take walks outside whenever possible
  • A light therapy box mimics outdoor light
  • Increase the amount of natural life in your home or office
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods
  • Reach out to family and friends and share your feelings
  • Find relaxation techniques that work for you
  • Seek medical help if you are really struggling

For more tips on taking care of your mental health, please check out our Teen Toolbox We are here to Get Depression Out of the Dark.