(Lesley Finlay/ The Healthy) — It’s normal for the blues to creep up from time to time in the winter, but it’s estimated that at least 10 million Americans experience what’s known as seasonal depression. One 2015 paper in the journal Depression Research and Treatment noted that seasonal depression, often also referred to as “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD, is marked by symptoms that “center on sad mood or low energy.” Sherri Melrose, the professor of nursing and health studies who authored the paper, says people who are most at risk for seasonal depression “are female, are younger, live far from the equator, and have family histories of depression, bipolar disorder, or SAD.”
But even if you fall outside of those categories and you notice seasonal depression symptoms, it’s very possible you’re not imagining. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests that seasonal affective disorder may be underdiagnosed, with millions of people unaware that they’re dealing with the condition.
In a nutshell, seasonal affective disorder symptoms mirror the symptoms associated with major depressive disorders, but they last for about four or five months out of the year (often starting in the fall and spanning into the winter months—but SAD can occur in summer, too.) The NIMH says that people experiencing winter-pattern seasonal depression tend to oversleep, overeat, and withdraw from their social lives. (…)