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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Temperatures are cooling, the trees are changing colors, and pumpkin spice “everything” can be found “everywhere”. From toothpaste to beard oil, from deodorant to dog shampoo, commerce is bouncing back with a seasonal favorite. For many, however, the beautiful colors, cool breezes, and alluring smells signal the arrival of a recurring depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Symptoms triggered solely by seasonal change begin at the same time every year. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of mental health specialists diagnose and treat mental health illnesses, behavior disorders, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

More common in women, millennials, and generation Z, researchers found patients are more likely to be diagnosed with SAD if they, or a family member, have been diagnosed with depression. Symptoms of SAD include restlessness, anxiety, hypersomnia, sadness, overeating, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal, low energy, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Acute symptoms include violent behavior, chronic worrying, and thoughts of suicide. SAD is not considered a separate disorder, but a recurring seasonal depression. Although the exact cause of SAD remains unknown, patients diagnosed with SAD overproduce melatonin, produce less vitamin D, and have trouble regulating serotonin, a brain chemical which affects emotions, moods, and feelings of wellbeing.

Though SAD is more common in adults, usually developing in the late teens or early 20s, young people have been diagnosed with this type of depression. While most children look forward to seeing friends, participating in social gatherings, and enjoying extra-curricular activities, children diagnosed with SAD experience anxiety, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, agitation, and trouble concentrating. Children who experience violence going to or from school and recurring cruelty or hostility in the classroom can display symptoms of SAD as early as the end of July or the first of August. “Diagnosing SAD in a child is not easy, because determining the pattern of depression takes time. A doctor will typically attempt to determine whether a child is suffering from depression or anxiety first, then look at the pattern over time.” Improving Lives Counseling Services provides mental health check-ups and screenings to children, adolescents, and teens in virtual (online) and social distancing in-person sessions.

Our country remains in the grip of a pandemic, and the emergence of a social uprising. Adolescents and teens, though they don’t read a paper or watch evening broadcasts, are exposed to news and media pundits through social media sites and site advertisements. Extended, persistent periods of sadness, and lack of interest in family, friends, and normal activities, may indicate a child has a depressive illness.

Major risk factors for fall-winter SAD include a family history of depression, mental illness, genetics, the biological clock, chronic disease, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. The four major treatments for SAD are light therapy, psychotherapy, medication, and vitamin D. Other treatments include talk therapy, music therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and meditation. It is important to be diagnosed and treated by a licensed mental health specialist. A misdiagnosis or wrong treatment plan can have a harmful psychological effect. How do you protect yourself and your family? Add a mental health check-up to your list of annual exams.

Improving Lives Counseling Services accepts most insurances, accepts SoonerCare, and works with Improving Lives Inc, to ensure no one is turned away. Untreated, Seasonal Affective Disorder can lead to suicide. Pumpkin spice season is the perfect time to protect yourself and your family. Live the life you and your loved ones were meant to live. Call us at 918-960-7852.