With the weather changing, many of us are finding simple pleasures that come with the emerging season—such as mood improvement, better sleep, and a general interest in doing things with others again. However, for some people, this may not be the case. Read below to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Depression and how to tell the difference between the two.
Many people find they have an extra pep in their step during the changing season. Longer days and more sunlight usually call for a longer list of things that people are excited to do, and naturally, many people find improved mental and physical health. For some people, however, these feelings aren’t exactly there. That’s where we come in—Care& Family Health offers services to support people struggling with mental health. As we enter some of the most beloved seasons, shaking your feelings off might be tricky if you have generalized depression instead of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Knowing the difference is essential to understanding yourself and finding personalized methods that work best for you and your well-being.
Below are some signs that your Seasonal Affective Disorder may be something more:
Signs of Depression:
Individuals who feel “low” or “depressed” daily are usually at risk of depression. It’s one thing to have a bad day or have stressful periods in your life due to work, school, or other factors—but when they string together for a long period and leave you feeling in the dumps, this can be a sign of depression.
When it comes to Seasonal Affective Disorder, individuals might find that they feel lonelier in the winter months but shake the feeling once spring and summer come around. This is another difference between general depression and SAD.
A common sign of depression is losing interest in things you once loved or enjoyed. If you’ve genuinely lost interest, that happens—but losing interest for no good reason is sometimes a repercussion of depression setting in. If you have a hobby or ritual that no longer fills your cup, it might be helpful to question why that might be.
The same thing can happen with SAD, but as the seasons change, you might find yourself doing the things you love again (especially if they’re season-specific, like gardening or sailing).
Having low self-esteem happens to the best of us, but when you’re in a somber mood and have a persistent feeling that you’re “worthless” or “not good enough,”—this could be another sign of depression. If you constantly feel at fault for letting people down, letting yourself down, or practicing negative self-talk, it could be time to reflect and reach out to a healthcare professional. It’s normal and valid to feel these emotions, but having resources to help you along the way can be highly beneficial to your total health and wellness.
When it comes to SAD and low-self esteem, many people get anxious. Having anxiety can be a result of negative thoughts like those mentioned above. Although anxiety may or may not go away in the warmer months—an improved mood due to the seasonal change can help offset the frequency at which you experience anxiety and low self-esteem. This is another way SAD may differ from general depression.
Thoughts of self-harm are not common with SAD. If you experience this, it is a key indicator of depression. If you feel like you do not want to be alive anymore or know someone who has expressed this to you—this resource can save a life: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566.
Their professionals are trained to help, especially in a crisis. They operate 24/7 to ensure dedicated care for all and have online services if you feel uncomfortable speaking over the phone.
These four differences and symptoms between SAD and depression are important to review, especially if you are experiencing them. Checking in with yourself and a mental health professional is essential for your wellbeing. If you wish to speak with a nurse practitioner and gain clarity on your situation, reach out to the Care& Family Health team. We’d love to give you the information, tools, and goals you need to live your best life.