Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Counseling for seasonal depression at Lansing Counseling


Depression counselors at Lansing Counseling can help you with your seasonal depression, also called Seasonal Affective Disorder. This article will review what seasonal affective disorder is, what causes seasonal depression, the signs and symptoms of seasonal depression, some of the potential treatments for seasonal affective disorder, and will discuss how a counselor at Lansing Counseling may be able to help you with seasonal depression. Contact us today if you are ready to learn more about our depression counseling services in East Lansing, MI. We will get you set up with a licensed mental health professional to help you on your journey to finding freedom from your depression.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Depending on where we live, the winter season is often the most common time that many people of all ages seek therapy, because whether or not we talk about it, many of us struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can manifest as a type of depressionanxiety, insomnia, isolation, and/or sometimes other symptoms.

A diagnosis of SAD usually includes multiple symptoms; to be sure that this is what you are suffering from you should discuss what you are feeling with
your doctor and/or therapist. Seasonal affective disorder is a seasonal presentation of depression, but it differs from other forms of depression in certain ways. You will likely experience depressive symptoms such as low mood, lack of motivation, low social activity, problems with sleep, and low energy. While anyone can experience SAD, it tends to be a bit more common in women than men. It also tends to affect those who struggle with other forms of depression, such as bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, or panic disorder as well as other mental illnesses, but anyone can suffer from SAD especially during the winter months. This type of depression tends to occur in the months when the time of sunlight is much shorter, and in regions where there tends to be less sunlight, thereby providing a much smaller amount of Vitamin D.


What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?


SAD is often due to a lack of Vitamin D that the sunshine brings, but it can often be caused by a lot of other circumstances. Since seasonal affective disorder typically happens during colder, gloomier, and shorter days; it is thought that a lack of sunlight and shorter days are both important contributors.  Often when people experience seasonal depression, they see a mental health counselor to help them get through the difficult time. This is typically done by developing skills to improve mood, using therapy methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.


What are the signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, reach out to us and we will connect you with a licensed mental health counselor. Your counselor will help you determine whether you are dealing with SAD or perhaps a different  type of depression, will help you navigate your emotions, and will help you build a plan for coping and will help you move toward healing.


Seasonal Affective Disorder and Isolation


Another effect that often comes with experiencing SAD is self-isolation. For those who suffer from SAD, they often find it difficult to reach out to family or friends. This is important because it makes the suffering worse. The truth is that if you suffer from SAD, very many others who care about you are likely suffering as well. Even if they are not, it can be helpful to even just give a voice to your suffering. In addition to seeking counseling, it can be extremely helpful to also reach out to those who care about you. It can make you feel less alone in what you are going through, and will often very likely also be helpful to others who might be suffering in a similar way. SAD is that common, so you do not have to feel as if you are going through this on your own.


Seasonal Affective Disorder and insomnia


Yet another problem that often accompanies SAD is sleep issues. Very often those who suffer from SAD will try to sleep during the day, since they feel so depressed due to the lack of sunlight. This habit is not helpful, because it usually leads to struggles sleeping at night, thus beginning the whole process again. It is important to sleep at night and stay awake during the day, even though it might be difficult. In the end, it will help to balance out the body’s natural rhythm. Exercise, finding projects, and other ways to distract yourself during the day can help keep the balance, which will in turn help in dealing with SAD.


What kinds of treatments are there for Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder with psychotherapy 


There are many treatments, therapy being one of the most effective, to combat this, because let’s face it- no one wants to give in to feeling miserable from November-April, nor should they have to succumb to that. There are many kinds of therapy that have been shown to be helpful, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal process therapy.  While a counselor specializing in one of these kinds of therapy may take a certain approach, all of them have been shown to be helpful. Our counselors consider your unique biological, psychological, and sociocultural makeup as they decide which individual treatment plan will be most helpful for you. Through building a relationship with your counselor, you will partner with each other in battling your seasonal depression and your counselor will help you learn to recognize signs of seasonal affective disorder in the future so that you don’t have to experience it forever.


Use a 10,000 lumen therapy light for Seasonal Affective Disorder


There are a lot of techniques that help in various ways.  One example, in addition to therapy, is a product that has proven to be extremely helpful, which is a safe, non-UV ray SAD Lamp.

There is a lot of physiological and neurological evidence that if you spend 30-45 minutes a day, usually in the morning during the winter months near these lamps, they can really help with SAD. *It is safest to discuss this option with your doctor, in particular if you may have an eye disease or a particular sensitivity to light. In this case you can discuss other options to treat your SAD.

However, it does not take spending a large amount of money on a SAD lamp to find some relief; you can purchase LED light bulbs which can be used in most light fixtures in your home and/or workplace that have proven to be helpful at most stores that could help with symptoms along with therapy sessions.


Talk to your medical doctor about vitamin and medical treatments 


Since seasonal affective disorder is a seasonal presentation of depression, it may be important for you to talk with your medical doctor or psychiatrist about exploring medical treatments.  Additionally, since seasonal affective disorder is likely related to a lack of vitamin D, it may be helpful to get a blood test to determine whether you have low vitamin D levels. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about possibly adopting a vitamin D supplement.


How can therapists at Lansing Counseling help with Seasonal Affective Disorder / Seasonal Depression?


Lansing Counseling PLLC has licensed counselors, therapists, and social workers who can help you determine what you are dealing with. As trained and licensed mental health professionals, our counselors are equipped to help you cope with your seasonal depression. Our counselors use evidence-based practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal-process therapy, and dialectical-behavioral therapy.

If you struggle in particular with Seasonal Affective Disorder during these dreary winter months, our licensed counselors at Lansing Counseling can offer helpful therapy to combat your symptoms during this difficult time. You do not and should not have to suffer from SAD.


Schedule an intake at Lansing Counseling to address your seasonal depression 


Complete the contact form below to inquire about working with a counselor at Lansing Counseling to help you with your seasonal depression. This is a very common issue especially in colder climates during the winter when days are shorter and sunlight is limited. Our counselors, social workers, and therapists in East Lansing, MI work by using evidence-based practices to help people overcome symptoms associated with depression such as; sleep issues, lack of motivation, low social engagement, low mood, low energy, feeling agitated or irritable, trouble with emotion regulation, and more. Reach out to us at Lansing Counseling today to explore starting therapy with one of our licensed mental health professionals.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Lansing Counseling

5030 Northwind Dr Suite 101
East Lansing, MI 48823

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