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Currently, many residents of Chicago and beyond are currently afflicted by SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that many people experience during the changing of the seasons, most frequently during the turnover from fall into winter. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most days of the week
  • A feeling of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Low energy
  • Low interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

While the exact cause for SAD is unknown, most mental health and healthcare professionals believe the changing of the seasons changes the internal body chemistry of the body and the brain.  This can happen during any significant shift in weather, but it happens most generally during the winter. As days get shorter, people have less exposure to sunlight and more exposure to darkness. This can significantly alter a body’s circadian rhythm. Serotonin and melatonin levels (brain chemicals which affect mood and sleep patterns) are also likely to drop during the winter months.

It’s important to recognize the Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real affliction, ubiquitously recognized by healthcare professionals and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a depressive disorder. For SAD, especially, there are many treatments to consider – such as light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. If you are experiencing any or all of the systems described above, it may be pertinent to seek out treatment – there is no reason to consider tangible changes to mood or behavior as insignificant or fictitiously imagined.

I will link a few articles here that further elucidate on seasonal affective disorder. 

  1. Seasonal Depression Can Accompany Summer Sun
  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder
  3. Brought on by Darkness, Disorder Needs Light

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