Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feeling sad? It Could be Seasonal Affective Disorder

Published: Dec 26, 2014

LEWISTON, ID - Hope you had a joyous Christmas. As the excitement is winding down from the holidays, moods may be too,

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. Six-percent of the U.S. population is affected by it. 

"It occurs most often farther away from the equator," said Quality Behavioral Health Director of Development, Sara Kern. "It's when people are feeling sad, irritable, not wanting to be around others, having difficulty with relationships, a lot of people see weight gain and just being lethargic and not wanting to do things."

One Valley resident, who chose to remain anonymous, has been living with seasonal affective disorder for almost 50 years. He first discovered he had the disorder when he was in high school. "I felt like I was sad all the time," said SAD sufferer. "There were a couple times I felt like... Wishing I wasn't alive. Later on, when I was in college, there were times when I felt suicidal, during this time of the month, and I just wasn't very happy."
SAD can strike any time of the year, but it happens most often in the colder months, when the sun isn't always out.

"When it gets dark out I just have this low grade depression," said SAD sufferer. "This low grade feeling of sadness and I'm not quite able to be as happy, or I just don't feel as much during the winter months."

Anyone can get Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it's most common in: women, people who live far from the equator, where winter daylight hours are very short. People between the ages of 15 and 55, and people who have a close relative with SAD. 

"If people are seeing signs of hopelessness and suicide, reaching out and calling their doctor or getting enrolled in some type of psycho therapy, or behavioral counseling is definitely important," said Sara Kern. "You can also increase your exercise, try to get under lights, and get outside on the sunny days we do have. That's all very important."

"You have to learn that it's very temporary, don't get too discouraged and you have to let yourself feel depressed," said SAD sufferer. "Sometimes it's worse when you try to deny that you're depressed. So, the best things is to accept it; accept that it's part of who you are and that's what happens to you during the wintertime. Don't be afraid to see a councilor or a therapist."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. So, don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. It's important to take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. And, if you think someone you know has SAD, talk to them, it could save their life.

There are several places to turn to, in the valley, if you think you're experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Contact your local health care provider at any of our area hospitals or you can contact Quality Behavioral Health in Clarkston.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 – available 24/7 
Quality Behavioral Health (509) 758-3341
Tri-State Memorial Hospital (509) 758-5511
Valley Medical Center (208) 746-1383
Pullman Regional Hospital (509) 332-2541

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