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Are You Feeling S.A.D.?

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What is SAD?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. It begins and ends at about the same time every year with symptoms starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. (Mayo Clinic data information). People with SAD report feeling exhausted, both physically and emotionally and cannot shake the feeling even after an extended period. Although SAD is more common during the winter months, it will surprise some people to know that it can also occur in the spring or early summer.

Attorneys have more than their share of cases of depression, including SAD, but often it is not dealt with due to the stigma of having a mental health issue that is still prevalent in the industry. There are different causes for SAD. Some symptoms of SAD include having low energy and problems sleeping. In severe cases, some may have thoughts of death or suicide. Regardless of the severity, all symptoms are significant and signal that treatment could be needed and should not be ignored.

What causes SAD?

  • Biological clock or circadian rhythm disruption.  The decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Decreased serotonin levels.  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression and moodiness.
  • Changes in melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, affecting sleep patterns and mood.

It is important to understand that although there is less stigma surrounding SAD versus other mental health issues, the effects of SAD can have serious effects on your professional and personal life. Therefore, it important to treat SAD as soon as possible. From light therapy (phototherapy) and medications to psychotherapy and mind-body connection, there are many options to reduce symptoms and improve your mental health well-being.

Final Note

If you are SAD, you are not on your own. Don’t brush it off as a case of the “winter blues.” If you are unsure of determining whether you are just having a temporary, tough time in your life or if it’s more, take a self-screening test at https://adaa.org/iving-with-anxiety/ask-and-learn/screenings/screening-depression. If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 immediately.  


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