Are You Struggling with Depression or SAD?

Winter BluesLike other types of depression, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a condition of the brain that leaves a person feeling down. It can sap your energy, erase your motivation and make you feel moody.

SAD is cued by the low levels of light during winter’s shorter days. Its symptoms usually start in fall and end in spring. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or health situation.

Ongoing depression is never a normal part of life. Read on to learn about the symptoms of depression and SAD, and how to seek treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression and SAD may include:

  • No longer enjoying the things you usually like to do.
  • Feeling sad, down, hopeless or cranky most of the day, almost every day.
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Feeling tired or having no energy.
  • Feeling guilty or worthless.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Feeling agitated.
  • Thinking about death or suicide.

These symptoms are specific to SAD:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

(SAD sometimes occurs in people in spring and summer. Summer-onset SAD has nearly the opposite symptoms, including insomnia, poor appetite, weight loss and agitation.)

Treatment Options

Safe and effective treatments for depression and SAD are available. They can include seeing a psychotherapist, taking medications or a combination.

Additionally, with SAD, light therapy can be a powerful treatment protocol. With light therapy (also called phototherapy), you use a special light box “aka happy lights” and expose yourself right after you wake up each day. Doing this appears to trigger a change in your brain chemistry and boost your mood. It’s a bit like getting some summer sunshine to start the day. Light therapy often offers relief from SAD in just a few days.

With all types of depression, a behavioral health therapist or your primary care provider can guide you to the support you need. Make an appointment today.

Learn more about our Behavioral Medicine team at PacMed. Our team of licensed therapists offer individual, couples and family therapy. They also can help with medication management and provide psychiatric evaluation. To make an appointment, use our appointment tool or call 206.621.4045.



If you are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself, help is available:

  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1
  • Go to the emergency room at your local hospital
  • Call the King County 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1 (866) 427-4747
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
  • Call your health care provider and tell them it is urgent