Sick of the snow yet? Bad news: There's more on the way. Much more.
While the flurries are fun for some, an estimated 14 percent of Americans battle the winter blues. And almost half of those people (more women than men) have full-on seasonal affective disorder or SAD – a form of depression more common in the colder months.
Only a doctor can diagnose SAD, but these five signs should raise red flags.
Like depression, SAD can make you feel unhappy and irritable. The symptoms subside in spring as the weather warms and the days get longer, but that's no reason to suffer through the winter months. Antidepressants, talk therapy and even exposure to light can help.
|You Feel Hopeless|
If you feel like winter's dragging on and there's nothing to look forward to, you might suffer from SAD. Hopelessness is a symptom of depression, but your doctor can tease out whether it's tied to the season.
|You're Gaining Weight|
While some forms of depression cause a loss of appetite, people with SAD tend to eat more – especially sweets and starchy foods. This, combined with SAD-induced sluggishness, can lead to winter weight gain.
Some forms of depression make it harder to sleep, but people with SAD tend to feel more tired and sleep longer than usual. The disorder can also make it harder to concentrate.
Like people with depression, SAD sufferers can lose interest in social activities and become isolated. It's one thing to stay in because of bad weather, but talk to a doctor if you think you're becoming withdrawn. If you have SAD, there are treatments that might help you through the remaining winter months.