Seasonal Affective Disorder: Is This You?

Sunshine — on my shoulders — makes me happy…
Sunshine almost always makes me high…
If I had a wish that I could wish for you, I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while.
- John Denver

Even in Miami, people’s moods can be affected by winter. It’s not that the weather here suddenly take a temperature dive. Quite the opposite: Our winters are enticing, with snow birds from the north of the US gathering around to get to the beach and otherwise take advantage of our South Florida warmth. So if our winters are so sought after, why is it that people still get depressed during this time of year?

It’s because it’s not about the weather — it’s about the sunshine, or lack of it.

Even though temperatures remain ideal, there’s still a lower amount of sunshine during fall and winter. This darkness quotient is due to two reasons: 1) The earth’s tilt away from the sun, and 2) daylight saving’s time pushing back the clocks by an hour, making nightfall earlier than during the summer.

This lack of sunshine can make people depressed, and the medical term is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately abbreviated as SAD.

The symptoms of SAD are similar, if not the same, as general depression or clinical depression. To name a few: Feeling depressed on most days; insomnia, or oversleeping; lack of appetite, or weight gain; lethargy and/or a “heavy” feeling in limbs; irritability; emotional oversensitivity; and not getting along with others.

If you experience any of the above symptoms for over a week, seek psychiatric help immediately. No one should have to suffer depression, and certainly not alone. Specifically with regard to SAD, you might be helped simply by arranging to have more direct sunlight (phototherapy). At the same time, depression warrants a professional assessment, and you might also need medication and/or psychotherapy to regulate your depression. Therefore, contact a psychiatrist without hesitation, and make an appointment. Or turn to a trusted family member or friend to help you schedule the meeting.

If you are diagnosed with SAD, be sure to let us know if you come in for any of our spa or other treatments. We are here to help you, and in order to best do so we need to know your overall health situation. Your well-being is our concern, and if you’re not feeling your best it can affect your health overall. In the meantime, we hope that if you are a sufferer of SAD, that you can be helped, and that once the season’s over, you’ll be back to your happier self.

Originally published at on January 14, 2016.

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