Like a dark, gloomy symbol of sadness, winter can often be a time where we feel ourselves begin to slip into depression again. Even after recovery, depression will find ways to nag at you; it will continue to keep popping up and cause you trouble. You won’t always know when or where, and you certainly will not have a say in any of it, but it will happen. For many of us, we have certain times of the year that it can spring up. Seasonal depression is something that can be caused by many factors: your location, the time of year, and your prior history to name a few.

The technical name for this is aptly named Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It is a type of depression that is related to the changes in a season. It will roughly begin and end at the same time every year, which can either be a blessing or a curse. The most common form of Seasonal Affective Disorder is where you will start to feel symptoms in the fall and this will continue into the winter months, with you feeling low, heavy, and lacking energy. There is a rarer chance that you will feel this in the spring and summer seasons, but fall and winter are far more common. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are more or less the same as Major Depression and other kinds of this illness. You feel worthless, have trouble sleeping, have difficulty concentrating, losing interest in activities you enjoy, and more. The qualifying characteristic is that these symptoms manifest themselves during a specific time of year. While many people would write this off as just some kind of “winter blues”; a reaction to the colder weather, cloudy skies, and holiday come down. But it’s not something that should be ignored or not taken seriously. It is still a form of depression and can be treated through therapy or medications.

It’s That Time of Year

It is important to understand the risks you may face with Seasonal Affective Disorder and what may put you at a higher risk of developing the condition. Unfortunately, being female is riskier than for males; females are diagnosed four times more often than men. If you live farther away from the equator (warmer weather and climate), you are more likely to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you already have an existing condition of depression or bipolar disorder, you can also develop this timely condition, and if your family has a history of it, it can also increase your odds. Finally, younger people are more likely to develop it. If you can understand what may put you at a higher risk, you can take the necessary steps in order to prevent it from happening. Really, even if you don’t possess any of the risks we have listed, it is still important to take care of yourself and create a routine and behavior that helps keep your mood up throughout the entire year.

If there was a positive aspect of Seasonal Affective Disorder to look for, it is that it can be planned for more than most other conditions. Because it happens during a specific time of year, you can prepare yourself for it. You still may not be able to pinpoint the exact time and day, but you can have a better idea than a more general type. You can see the patterns that precede its coming and know that it’s time to start taking steps to help yourself. Share this with your family or loved ones so that they know what is happening, and what is causing it. You will also know that there is an endpoint; you know that it won’t last forever. Once the spring comes and the weather begins to clear, your depression will begin to subside, allowing you to crawl out of the rut you have been in. Don’t be afraid to speak to a doctor about it, especially if you’re already in a recovery program. You can bring it up and get help for it on top of everything else.

As we continue our journey of recovery, it is important to always keep a finger on the pulse of our own bodies. We need to understand our triggers and tendencies, the things that can affect us, and what we can do to help ourselves feel better during these times. Seasonal Affective Disorder does have a silver lining in the fact that it presents itself at specific times, but that doesn’t make it any less important to take care of. It is still difficult to manage and deal with, so never take it lightly. If you feel like you are showing the symptoms of the condition, seek help and don’t let your taking care of yourself fall by the wayside. You matter too much to let that happen.