Though December brings Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s Eve, and the joy of the holiday season in general, it also brings awareness to some important topics. December is Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) Awareness Month and Spiritual Literacy Month.
S.A.D. is a type of depression that is related to changes in the seasons. This type of depression begins and ends around the same time each year. Most people who have S.A.D. start experiencing symptoms in the Fall that persist into the Winter months. Less commonly, some people who have S.A.D. start experiencing symptoms in the Spring that continue into the Summer months.
S.A.D. symptoms may start out mild and become more and more severe as the season progresses. Signs and symptoms of S.A.D. may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Experiencing sleeping problems
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
It is normal to have days where you feel “off” or down. However, if you feel down for days at a time and cannot find the motivation to do the activities you normally enjoy, it may be time to seek professional help. Seeking help is particularly important if you feel hopeless or think about suicide.
Although everyone susceptible to developing S.A.D., there are a few things that increase this risk. S.A.D. is more commonly diagnosed in women than in men. It also occurs more frequently in younger adults than in older adults. Additionally, individuals who have blood relatives with S.A.D. or another form of depression are more likely to develop S.A.D. Being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder increased your likelihood of developing S.A.D. Lastly, individuals who live far away from the equator – in places with decreased sunlight during the day – are at a higher risk of developing S.A.D.
If you have S.A.D., don’t lose hope. There are treatment options. Affinity Health Affairs is a holistic psychotherapy practice, so treatment may include phototherapy, known as light therapy, and psychotherapy, known as talk therapy. These treatments can help prevent complications, especially if S.A.D. is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get too bad.
Moreover, spirituality can aid in combatting the symptoms of S.A.D. Despite typically being merged into one, it is essential to remember that you can be spiritual without being religious. Religion is organized and has specific beliefs that usually come with a strict set of rules, while spirituality is believing in something bigger than humanity and being empowered.
Spiritual literacy refers to learning and understanding how to live a spiritual life each day. Being spiritually literate allows you to find Spirit in your daily life and see the web that connects you with other people, your community, and the natural world. Spiritual literacy allows you to find substance and meaning in your life.
Spiritual Literacy Month was founded by two authors, Frederic and Mary Brussat, to advocate for respect for the religions of the world and the spiritual traditions that come along with them.
If you are struggling with S.A.D. or need help awakening your spirituality, reach out for help today!
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Schedule here for your complimentary consultation with me.