Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the seasons change and the days become shorter and darker, some individuals find themselves experiencing a noticeable shift in their mood and overall well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Seasonal Affective Disorder feels like, its common symptoms, and strategies to cope with this condition.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a subtype of major depressive disorder. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression that occur during specific seasons, usually fall and winter. The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to reduced exposure to sunlight, which can disrupt the body’s internal clock and affect the production of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin.

What Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Feel Like?

  1. Persistent Sadness: One of the hallmark symptoms of SAD is a deep and persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness. This emotional state can make everyday activities feel burdensome and joyless.

  1. Low Energy: Individuals with SAD often experience a significant decrease in energy levels. They may feel fatigued and lethargic throughout the day, making it difficult to accomplish tasks or engage in activities they once enjoyed.

  1. Changes in Sleep Patterns: SAD can disrupt sleep patterns. Some people may find themselves oversleeping and struggling to get out of bed in the morning, while others may experience insomnia or disrupted sleep.

  1. Appetite Changes: Cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods are common among those with SAD. This can lead to weight gain and a sense of guilt or shame.

  1. Difficulty Concentrating: Concentration and focus may become impaired, making it challenging to perform well at work or school.

  1. Loss of Interest: People with SAD often lose interest in activities they typically find pleasurable, which can lead to social withdrawal and isolation.

  1. Irritability: Increased irritability and moodiness are also common symptoms of SAD. Small annoyances may feel overwhelming, and relationships may become strained.

  1. Physical Symptoms: Some individuals with SAD experience physical symptoms such as headaches and body aches, which can further contribute to their distress.

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder:

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are effective strategies to manage and alleviate its impact:

  1. Light Therapy: Light therapy, or phototherapy, involves sitting in front of a specialized lightbox that emits bright, full-spectrum light. Regular use of light therapy can help regulate the body’s internal clock and improve mood.

  1. Counseling and Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can provide individuals with valuable coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms.

  1. Medication: In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend antidepressant medications to help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and prescription.

  1. Exercise: Regular physical activity, especially outdoor exercise during daylight hours, can boost mood and energy levels. Even a short walk can make a significant difference.

  1. Dietary Changes: Be mindful of your diet during the winter months. Try to maintain a balanced diet and limit excessive consumption of carbohydrates and sugar.

  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and improve mood.

  1. Social Support: Stay connected with friends and loved ones. Social support is crucial for mental health, and spending time with others can provide emotional comfort.

  1. Maintain a Routine: Establish a daily routine, even on dark and gloomy days. Consistency in daily activities can help stabilize mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can significantly impact a person’s life, making it important to recognize its symptoms and seek appropriate support and treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with SAD, remember that effective treatments are available, and with the right strategies, it is possible to manage this condition and find relief from its debilitating symptoms. Don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals for guidance and support in managing Seasonal Affective Disorder.


Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Intersectionality of PRIDE and Juneteenth

In honor of Juneteenth in the middle of PRIDE month, intersectionality is a reminder that we hold multiple identities such as our race/ ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, religion, disability, and age that create unique lived experiences for each person, resulting in different advantages and disadvantages.

Relationship Violence

Partner abuse, domestic abuse, and intimate partner violence can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, abuse and violence in relationships are all too common.

Three Reasons Why It Can Be Difficult For Men to Seek Out Therapy

Men, it is OK to reach out for help. Asking for help is not easy, especially when topics are sensitive, and you may feel vulnerable.

Support for Emergency Responders and Professionals at Risk

Did you know that approximately 70% of the world’s population has been exposed to a traumatic life event?

Learn More About Acute Stress Disorder

The National Center for PTSD describes acute stress disorder as a mental health problem that can occur in the first month after a traumatic event.

Build Resilience: Re-evaluating Your Mental Health Toolkit

Now that school is over, it is the perfect time to look at what is in your mental health toolkit.

Recharging Your Self-Care Battery: Support for Caregivers

Each person has their limits as a caregiver. The work can be emotionally and physically exhausting, especially as you expend energy. If you do not have opportunities to “recharge”, you will become depleted.

Summer De-Stressing with a Therapist

Teachers, professors, school administrators, student support… those who directly interact with children in an educational setting know the joys and challenges that are present at the end of the school year.

7 Reasons Summer

School is out and summer is right around the corner. The responsibilities and pressures of many young people look very different this time of year. Students may seem happier and more relaxed, as stress lessens, and emotions appear regulated. However, adolescents and young adults may struggle to adjust and engage in maladaptive coping strategies.
broken plate

Broken, Yet Whole

If your life can be best described as “a mess” and you feel like your sense of self is shattered, there is hope.

The Power of Explanatory Styles

Often the everyday moments in the present do not get much attention, while regrets of the past and worries of the future take center stage. You may miss out on a big chunk of life when it is hard to move forward.

10th Anniversary: Announcing our 10th Location

2024 is an extra special year. CARE Counseling is celebrating our 10th anniversary as a clinic and we are opening our 10th location in the Woodbury area!
Mental Health Factors Impacting Celebrations

Mental Health Factors Impacting Celebrations

Celebrations often come up in therapy due to having a mixed range of emotional experiences on celebratory dates depending on the person.
Understanding CARE Coordination

Understanding CARE Coordination

Care coordination is an important aspect of your treatment; understanding this service can help ensure you receive the best care possible.
gaining independence

Gaining Independence and Finding Yourself After Being in an Unhealthy Relationship

It can be hard to adjust to a new norm after relationships end. It can also be tough to cope with the thoughts and feelings that come up after no longer being in a relationship you didn’t think would ever end.
Death Anxiety (Thanatophobia)

Death Anxiety (Thanatophobia)

While fear of death is a common existential fear, some people have intense fears of themselves or a loved one dying. An extreme fear of death or the dying process, known as thanatophobia is considered as a specific fear, or phobia that is under the broader category of anxiety disorders.
Understanding Fear: Questions to Ask Yourself

Understanding Fear: Questions to Ask Yourself

If you are experiencing significant discomfort or find that there are things that you want to do, but are unable to do because of fear, then talking with a mental health specialist is recommended. Fear that becomes persistent can take a toll on both your physical and mental health, so it is important to take preventative measures.
Sexual Violence Prevention

Sexual Violence Prevention

What (or who) do you turn to amid suffering? How about when faced with situations that seem beyond your own control? As strong as you are, you may feel weak or helpless. Adverse childhood experiences, community violence, and sexual violence are just a few of many serious public health problems that impact communities.
The Importance of Learning about Trauma (Psychoeducation) for All Ages

The Importance of Learning about Trauma (Psychoeducation) for All Ages

Psychoeducation can be provided in many forms including printed and web-based materials such as facts sheets, psychoeducational videos, books, and conversations with professionals in the field. Hearing stories from those who have experienced similar events can also be helpful. All these methods help normalize the reactions to traumatic events and can reduce feelings of guilt and shame through sharing of information and common experiences.
Learning How to Love Yourself & Living with Bipolar Disorder

Learning How to Love Yourself & Living with Bipolar Disorder

Did you know that seeking help for your mental health is an act of self-love? While bipolar can significantly impair functioning, many individuals are living with bipolar disorder and thriving!
3 LGBTQ Hotlines You Need To Know

3 LGBTQ Hotlines You Need to Know

Having access to resources to help deescalate emotional distress and manage (or prevent) states of crisis can help empower individuals to take control over their mental health and well-being.
Providing Affirmative Mental Healthcare: 6 Things You Should Know blog cover photo rainbow sky with two hands reaching out

Providing Affirmative Mental Healthcare: 6 Things You Should Know

Healthcare professionals play a necessary role in supporting the LBGTQ+ community, by providing affirmative relationships that don’t perpetuate attitudes of ignorance or discrimination.
3 ways to help children with school anxiety blog cover image school auditorium lecture hall

3 Ways to Help Children with School Anxiety & Somatic Complaints

School refusal and reluctance to go to school due to frequent complaints of aches and pain can be a challenging topic for parents and caregivers to manage.