OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In the midst of the stress of the holidays, many Americans are at risk for seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that typically affects people during the winter months.
“It is normal to feel a bit blue during the darker winter months or after the holidays have passed, but when your sadness lasts more than a week or two, it could be a red flag,” said Dr. Wesley Williams, medical director at GlobalHealth. “SAD is thought to affect roughly 6% of the U.S. population, and most depressive episodes appear in the fall or winter and go away in the spring.”
Those diagnosed with SAD usually have experienced major depression for the past two years during the winter, which may be related to changes in the amount of daylight the person receives. The decline in daylight during the winter can affect circadian rhythms and cause hormonal changes.
Those with SAD may experience feeling depressed most of the day, having low energy, oversleeping, weight gain, changes in appetite, or losing interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
Officials say SAD is four times more common in women than in men.
Experts suggest remaining healthy and active this holiday season. By exercising 30 to 60 minutes several days a week, you can boost serotonin and endorphins, as well as improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables along with small, well-balanced meals can also help manage SAD.
Those experiencing SAD symptoms should talk to their primary care physician about health services available to them.