As we transition from summer into fall, you may begin to notice you feel a little down. It is normal to feel the “winter blues” as the weather becomes colder and the days become shorter. For some, this time of year is especially tough due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as seasonal depression. SAD occurs when the seasons change, but typically when summer transitions into fall. This disorder is a form of depression that can affect one’s daily life, including one’s thoughts and feelings.

5% of adults experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, while 10%-20% of individuals may feel a milder form, known as the winter blues. This disorder affects many people who live in climates with extended periods of sunlight. Symptoms of SAD may include feelings of anxiety, depression throughout the day, lack of energy and fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritation or agitation, and trouble sleeping.

Tips for Coping with The Start of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  1. Try to get some outside time every day. Although the days are becoming colder, sunlight is very important for increasing your serotonin levels. Going for a quick walk or a hike may help you to feel happier afterward, or even just a step outside to admire the beautiful changing leaves.
  2. Exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes per day. Try to find a workout you enjoy doing; this way, you improve your physical health, mood, and overall mental state. Exercise decreases stress and increases endorphins, which are the chemicals that make us feel good. Working out does not always mean going for a run or a walk. Activities like yoga can be fun and still a great workout.
  3. Socialize with family and friends. Surrounding yourself with friendly faces and being by those who care about you can help lift your mood, especially if you are feeling isolated in the colder months.
  4. Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and drink water frequently. Eating healthy food and staying hydrated can help you feel good by fueling your body with the nutrients it needs.

Remember, feeling a bit down during the fall months can be completely normal, but if these feelings are impacting your daily life or you feel that you have symptoms of SAD, please contact your doctor to find treatment options that might work for you. If you find yourself needing more support, reach out to us or another counselor near you!

Brielle Tamburri, M.S.