By Victoria McKenna, MA
After the clocks fall back an hour during the autumn months, it seems like we are starting our days in the dark and ending them in that same darkness. The lack of natural sunlight can contribute to some individuals experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression, which can be experienced as varying levels of motivation, fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, loss of interest in activities, isolation or withdrawn, difficulty with concentration, increased or decreased need for sleep, irritability, and suicidal thoughts.* When these depressive symptoms appear during the winter months and seem to be absent during the spring and summer months, the individual is most likely dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
As a clinician and coach, I have encountered many individuals who are dealing with various diagnosed mood disorders as well as SAD. Usually, individuals consider seeking treatment when they realize that they are no longer feeling like themselves and identify with feelings of being stuck, down, low, sad, or depressed that have persisted for multiple days or weeks.
“I just can’t pull myself out of this.”
“I don’t feel happy anymore.”
“All I want to do is stay inside and sleep.”
Sometimes the people closest to us will notice something is different and comment on our presentation.
“My friend keeps asking me what is wrong.”
“My partner said that I don’t seem like me anymore.”
“My mother keeps asking me if everything is okay.”
It can be difficult to identify these depressive emotions, especially if they are something you have experienced every winter. To you it probably feels normal and perhaps expected, however, you do not need to suffer through this and it is okay to ask for outside help. If you are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings, you may want to seek the guidance and support of a coach to learn skills to successfully manage these during the winter months and for the rest of the year.
*If you are ever experiencing suicidal thoughts seek professional help immediately.