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As the vivid colors of fall fade into the frosty images of winter, there may be some among us who start to feel different. Feeling listless, sleeping in more, finding it hard to concentrate; these may seem like symptoms of a ‘holiday funk’ of sorts, but they can also be signs of seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

For most people, the effects of seasonal depression are felt in fall and winter, with symptoms going away with the beginning of spring. Seasonal depression is marked by a number of symptoms, and can include:

· Feeling listless and/or sad for most of the day

· Loss of interest in activities you may have enjoyed

· Low energy and general sluggishness

· Over sleeping

· Difficulty concentrating

· General feelings of hopelessness

· Suicidal thoughts

The causes of seasonal depression are still not fully understood, though experts believe that it is linked to a lack of sunlight during winter months. This lack of sunlight can have effects on serotonin and melatonin levels within the body, disrupting sleep patterns and mood controllers in the brain. Some people may also be at a greater risk for seasonal depression, such as those who already exhibit symptoms of depression.

As with other forms of depression, seasonal depression can negatively affect schoolwork, social interactions, and worsen other mental health issues. It is more than just seasonal sadness, it’s just as serious as any other kind of depression.

One of the best ways to deal with seasonal depression is to head it off in the first place. If you or someone you know is at a greater risk for seasonal depression, you should contact your health provider for possible treatments. Additionally, if you know someone who is going through the symptoms of seasonal depression, discuss options for care they may not know about. Depression, whichever kind it is, is something that people experience differently, and without help they might not know the best way to handle it.

For more information about SAD, try these resources:

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