Spring brings us sunshine and happiness after a long cold winter, but it also brings us rain and rainy day blues. Are those blues just a passing phase or do they have an underlying mental health issues like Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The Mayo Clinic defines Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as “a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.” The Mayo Clinic and the general mental health community also attribute SAD as a condition that is mostly associated with the winter blahs; possibly because of shorter days and lower than normal natural chemical levels, but SAD can also happen at other times of the year; such as in Spring or Summer.
Is It SAD?
So how can you tell if it’s just the usual doldrums or if it’s actually a mood disorder such as SAD? Chances are, if you’re only feeling sad on a rainy day it’s not SAD according to Dr. Debra Moore of Sacramento Psychology. Dr. Moore states: “Rainy, dark days seem depressing. We feel like hibernating, some of us feel like eating more, and some folks sleep more. But for most of us, these feelings are mild. We manage to continue our daily tasks. Even if we feel like crawling back under the covers, we don’t. And if we charted our moods, researchers tell us they wouldn’t fluctuate all that much depending on the weather.”
Does that mean it’s not SAD that is affecting your mood on rainy days? It actually depends on if you’re just feeling down that day or if it’s over a period of time according to South Univerity’s Dr. Kathryn Klock-Powell, “those who have seasonal slumps lasting for long periods of time (are advised) to seek professional therapy. It may be normal to have a couple bad days but when it lasts a few weeks, it’s time to talk to somebody.”
When Should You See A Doctor?
According to Mayo Clinic you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Increased sex drive
Mayo Clinic also advises that feeling down can be very normal, but if that feeling lasts and you can’t get motivated doing activities you normally enjoy then it’s time to see a doctor. Additionally, they suggest that if your sleep patterns or appetite levels are marginally changed or you’re having thoughts of suicide or find yourself turning to alcohol for comfort it is particularly important to see someone.