How do I know if I have SAD or if I am Depressed?

SAD and Depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, usually in the autumn or winter. It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including the reduced amount of sunlight that occurs during the shorter days of these seasons. SAD symptoms can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness and difficulty functioning, as well as changes in appetite, sleep patterns and energy levels.

Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health disorder that can occur at any time of year and is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. Like SAD, depression can also cause changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels, as well as difficulty functioning and difficulty with concentration and decision-making.

If you are experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities, it is possible that you are experiencing symptoms of depression. Other common symptoms of depression include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, low energy levels, and difficulty functioning in daily life.

If you are experiencing these symptoms only during certain times of the year, particularly the autumn or winter months, it is possible that you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Why do people get SAD?

The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a lack of exposure to natural light, changes in the body’s levels of certain hormones (such as serotonin and melatonin), and genetic factors. Some people are more susceptible to SAD than others, and it is more common in certain parts of the world where there are significant changes in the amount of sunlight between seasons.

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Does light have an impact on people’s mood?

Light can have a significant impact on people’s mood. Studies have shown that exposure to natural light can improve mood and overall well-being. Conversely, a lack of light can have a negative effect on mood.

Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the internal process that controls sleep-wake cycles. This can lead to improved sleep quality and a better mood. Natural light also boosts the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite and sleep.

On the other hand, a lack of light can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and lead to feelings of sadness, fatigue and irritability.

It’s important to try to get plenty of natural light during the day to help improve mood and overall well-being.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can be a very effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can provide individuals with a safe and supportive space to discuss their feelings, thoughts and experiences related to their SAD.

Through counselling, individuals with SAD can learn new skills and strategies for managing their symptoms, such as identifying and changing negative thinking patterns and behaviours that contribute to their SAD. Counselling can also help individuals with SAD improve their communication and relationships with others, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

It’s important to note that while counselling can be a very effective treatment for SAD, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

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