Affective Disorder Depression
Affective Disorder

Author’s Bio: Paige Lamb has a degree in Psychology. As a passionate medical worker, she enjoys writing about health topics to provide insight to everyone.

Throughout late fall and early winter many individuals find themselves experiencing strong feelings of being sad creeping into their daily lives. At times, this sadness is very hard to define and people can experience this problem constantly. This is often diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is commonly referred to as “winter depression.” Four to six out of every 100 people suffer from this disorder. Living in Michigan, we are very familiar with the term “winter blues.” The further a person is from the equator, the more a person is at risk for developing SAD. This happens because of the reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter months which can affect a person’s overall mood. Serotonin which is the brain’s mood booster is relatively low in the fall and winter months which makes it a link to depression. During these months,because of daylight savings, there are also increased levels of melatonin which is a sleep-related hormone that releases in the brain, making a person sleep a lot more. This can make it very hard for some people to prevent this disorder but there are many ways that a person can do so. The origin of winter depression is still unknown; but it is thought to be linked to a few specific ideas:
  • Lack of Vitamin D, also known as sunlight deficiency
  •  Imbalance in melatonin, which is mainly disrupted by seasonal changes
  •  Drop in serotonin levels caused by sunlight reduction
  • Interruptions to circadian rhythm due to lack of sunlight

Symptoms of SAD

Some of the symptoms of SAD include:

  •  Not being able to enjoy life activities
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  •  Mood swings.
  • On top of these symptoms, people can also experience insomnia, oversleeping, fatigue, and impatience. These indicators can all be signs of depression.

Symptoms of regular and seasonal depression are the same. SAD symptoms usually occur when a person sees a change in their exposure to daylight and sunlight.

Who Is At Risk?

  • People who have suffered from regular depression and/or bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for developing seasonal depression. Women are much more likely to be diagnosed with SAD, especially ones living in colder climates. 
  • The further a person is from the equator the less sunlight exposure they may get, particularly during the winter and fall months. People under these conditions are more likely to become diagnosed with seasonal depression.
In recent news, COVID-19 has been causing a decline in almost everyone’s mental health across the globe. A combination of SAD and COVID-19 is very dangerous and with correct preventative measures can possibly be avoided.

Treatment Options

Some common treatments for seasonal depression include; light therapy, antidepressant medication, psychological therapy, and various natural remedies.
  • Light Box therapy​- This is the most common method of treatment for individuals experiencing seasonal depression. In this treatment, people have bright light exposed to them in daily doses through a tool called a light therapy box. This box is designed to mimic sunlight, causing chemical changes in the brain that elevate mood.
  • Antidepressant medications​- Sometimes, doctors prescribe antidepressants to treat seasonal depression. The main type of medications that are used are called Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase levels of serotonin in the brain. By doing this, they help increase a person’s mood, while easing the symptoms of SAD.
  • Psychological therapy​- With the help of a licensed therapist, discussing seasonal depression can help individuals cope and recover from the disorder.
  • Natural remedies​- Some practitioners may prescribe Vitamin D as an alternative to medications. A prescription of Vitamin D can boost a person’s energy resulting in putting a stop to excessive fatigue and tiredness.
  • Other things that may be able to help people cope with seasonal depression include:
    • -Keeping sleep schedules in routine
      -Doing yoga
    • -Increasing intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
      - Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables

Recognize Your Triggers

During the cold winter months certain triggers can happen and most people do not even realize they are happening. Below is a list of causes for seasonal depression and a guide on how to be prepare and cope with them.

  1. Cold Weather ​ is one of the main trigger’s individuals face in occurrence with seasonal depression. One way to tackle the cold is to build up a tolerance to the weather during the fall months. As humans, we are able to adapt to many different things. In these changing times, try maintaining peace within your daily life. Exercising is a great way to stop the onset of SAD.
  2. The​ lack of being social ​ due to COVID-19 social distancing measures has greatly put a damper on peoples’ moods. Social interaction has a huge influence on maintaining our health, so many ask the question “where do we go from here?”   Like social interaction, our bodies and mind also value routine. Try to maintain sleep, eating, and exercising schedules so that you can feel complete and whole. Also, try connecting with people in different ways like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime calls.
  3. During the holidays, stress can happen. Mostly because indoor gatherings are very risky but also due to the significant economic stress many people are facing.This means that some people won’t be able to afford holiday traditions like always and many will not be able to see their loved ones. Talking on FaceTime or Zoom is also a great way to help cope with these emotions. Try practicing meditation and mindfulness so that you will not feel so alone during these challenging times.
  4. Insomnia is very common for people with depression to have. Getting enough sleep is very important for people that are suffering from SAD.
  5. Spending time with others is also very important for people that are suffering from loneliness and lack of social interaction. Because of COVID-19 spending time with others is very limited but virtual phone chats are still an amazing and easy way to keep those same levels of serotonin flowing.
  6. Focusing on happiness is also an important thing for people to do that suffer from SAD. Taking a step back and reflecting on things to be thankful and grateful for is necessary for people that have this disorder.

Online Doctor Visits

Do you think you may have seasonal affective disorder or depression? Our online doctor appointments will provide you with the answers and care that you need! SAD can be treated properly through our telehealth services and online doctor consultations. Medications for treatment can be prescribed and sent to your pharmacy as needed. At Home Urgent Care provides telehealth services that allow people to seek help on SAD and other mental health services. Book an online appointment today with our health care experts available at your convenience 365 days a year!

Book an Appointment

Online Doctor Appointment - At Home Urgent Care

Step 1

Call or Book your online Doctor Visit

Online Doctor Appointment - At Home Urgent Care

Step 2

Talk to a doctor over the Phone/ Tablet

Online Doctor Appointment - At Home Urgent Care

Step 3

If needed pick up your medication at the pharmacy


National Institute of Mental Health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Accessed on January 18, 2020 at American Psychological Association. Seasonal Affective Disorder: More than the winter blues. Accessed on January 18, 2020 at