Myth #1: It’s caused by cold weather.
Do you think you feel blue every fall and winter because of the change in temperature? Think again! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is related to a change in the amount of sunlight, not a drop in temperature. Experts believe that a lack of sunlight affects the body’s production of melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep and can cause symptoms of depression in certain individuals. For most people with SAD, the symptoms usually begin in the fall and end in the early spring or summer. If you think you may have SAD, schedule an appointment with a doctor.
Myth #2: It’s easy to pull yourself out of.
Perhaps you think you can easily snap out of SAD on your own. After all, there are a lot of self-help and self-care strategies out there. But let’s face it: It’s not possible to will the blues away. Your best option is to not go it alone. Instead, work with a counselor or doctor to develop a treatment plan which includes medication, light therapy, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
Myth #3: It only happens in winter.
Most people who struggle with SAD have it during the fall and winter season. Regardless of what season it is, some individuals may struggle with SAD after having overcast weather several days in a row. And some have it in the spring and summer, too. Do you struggle with depression every summer? If so, you may struggle with SAD. Here are some warning signs of SAD in the summer:
- Change in sleep patterns
- Body image issues
Myth #4: It’s not as bad as other types of depression.
While symptoms of SAD may not seem as debilitating as other forms of depression, realize that sometimes it can be just as severe as major depression. Those who struggle with this mental disorder struggle face traumatic challenges in their everyday life such as missing work, insomnia, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even thoughts of suicide. If a loved one struggles with SAD, take it seriously and let them know you’re willing to go with them to a counseling appointment to get help.
Myth #5: It only affects women.
While women are more likely than men to struggle with SAD, it can affect anyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Sadly, there’s still a stigma surrounding depression. Even though men still struggle with it too, they don’t always reach out for help. Studies indicate younger people in their 20’s and 30’s, as well as people living in northern latitudes, are more susceptible to SAD.
Myth #6: It’s normal to feel winter blues.
Everyone feels depressed occasionally, right? If you struggle with SAD, you already know that you may feel sad and depressed day after day during the season in which you’re affected by it. But did you know it does more than just make you feel blue? Other signs and symptoms of SAD are:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain
- Sleep abnormalities
- Difficulty concentrating
Myth #7: It’s all your fault.
As you can see, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding Seasonal Affective Disorder. But perhaps the biggest myth of all comes from other people not understanding SAD. If you have this disorder, no doubt, other people don’t understand what you’re going through. Your family and friends might even blame you and think it’s your fault. Even worse, they might call you lazy. Is it your fault? No! You can make changes in your life—such as going for a walk outside every day in the winter months—but realize you are not to blame. It’s important you get a good support system in place to come alongside you. Getting connected to a counselor, going to a Life Recovery Group weekly, and seeing a doctor regularly will go a long way to improving your symptoms of SAD.