Is it the “blues” or is it SAD?

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a “type of depression that is related to changes in the seasons” and “begins and ends at about the same time every year.” Most people with SAD begin to have symptoms in the fall and which continue in the winter months. Although it doesn’t occur as often, some people have symptoms in the spring or early summer. Symptoms of SAD that occurs during the fall and winter include: irritability; tiredness; problems getting along with others; hypersensitivity to rejection; heavy feeling in the arms or legs; appetite changes; and weight gain. Symptoms that are specific to SAD that occurs during the spring and summer include: depression; insomnia; weight loss; poor appetite; and agitation or anxiety. 
Since SAD is a subtype of major depression, some of the symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD. These symptoms include: feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day; having low energy; having problems sleeping; and having difficulty concentrating. It may also be considered a subtype of bipolar disorder. Some people with bipolar disorder may develop symptoms of mania or hypomania during the summer and depression during the fall and winter.
If you think you may have SAD, see your doctor or mental health provider right away. To help diagnose SAD, your mental health provider or doctor may do a thorough evaluation that includes a physical exam, lab tests, and a psychological evaluation. According to Mental Health America, treatments for SAD may include phototherapy or bright light therapy; antidepressant medications; and, according to some studies, cognitive behavioral therapy. Please speak with your doctor or mental health provider about receiving a diagnosis and about the treatments that may be right for you.
NARIC’s REHABDATA database includes many articles, books, and reports on seasonal affective disorder, which includes a depression sourcebook, and on depression within the disability community. Currently and recently completed research projects funded by NIDILRR are focusing on depression, including projects on pain, depression, and resilience in people with spinal cord injuries and healing pathways to help reduce depressive symptoms in women with physical disabilities.
If you would like to learn more, please contact our information specialist through our chat or by calling 800/346-2742.