Seasonal Affective Disorder

  1. Original Content by: Diane Lang, Therapist, Educator, author and Life Coach

It’s that time of year again- cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight. For parents, winter is a tough time- finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter. On top of that some parents have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Disorder. This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression is seasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are having seasonal disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD
  1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months
  2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated
  3. The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses
  4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits
  5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “Hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.
The cause of Seasonal disorder is still unknown but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had seasonal disorder at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York. We also know that Seasonal disorder can run in the family – genetics plays a role. Seasonal disorder is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.
There are treatment options for Seasonal disorder. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help. For some, having more sunlight added to their office and home helps. For other clients, keeping physically active and busy helps. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to. Also, adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits.
Light Therapy – we know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of seasonal disorder. There are certain lights you can buy called “ Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits
Meds- Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.
Psychotherapy – is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.
Some other options:
  1. Make sure to spend as much time as you can outside during daylight hours. Taking a early morning walk is a great way to get some natural light.
  2. Make sure to exercise – every time we exercise we produce endorphins while reducing stress hormones which gives us a boost of happiness.
  3.  Bring the outdoors into your home. Open up the shade and curtains. Move your desks/sitting chairs near the windows to get as much sunlight into your house.
  4. We can feel trapped indoors with the cold weather and less sunlight so make sure to add fun into your life. Make weekly plans to see friends, catch a movie, go for dinner, etc. Just make sure to laugh!


Especially for Expectant moms – presented by Diane Lang
Make a smooth transition into the 2nd half


October 23, 2012   6:30pm FREE
Baby 101? It’s natural to feel unsure during life transitions to motherhood. This 30 minute talk discusses the emotions that come along with being a new mom, what to expect and how to handle.

In Addition this evening will include:

  • Information on Stem Cell Banking with Viacord
  • Discount to save your baby’s stem cells
  • Dinner
  • Raffles & give-aways



About Diane
diane langTherapist, Educator, author and Life Coach Diane Lang has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist, literally. A therapist and educator of Positive Psychology, she has seen that it can provide a strong foundation for finding great happiness and is gratified that it is becoming a mainstream method of treatment. Lang has an M.A. in Counseling and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New York Institute of Technology.

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