Seasonal Affective Disorder is Real

This time of year I see an influx of clients and many seem to be suffering from very similar symptoms, unbeknownst to them. I hear reports of behavioral changes such as low energy, oversleeping, overeating, weight gain, and social withdrawal. Many people describe an unpleasant prolonged mood state including anxiety, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, loss of interest, mood swings, sadness, etc. Given the time of year and that these issues are out of the ordinary for these folks (or worsened), it is likely that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be the culprit. SAD can often be brushed off and not taken seriously, but it is a real diagnosis and naming it can lead to professional help and change in symptomology.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, risk factors that may make a person more prone to developing SAD include:

  1. Being female (The disorder is 4 times more common for women than men.)
  2. Living far from the equator (That’s us!)
  3. Family history of depression
  4. Having depression or bipolar disorder
  5. Younger age

If you are struggling and feeling stuck this winter, please reach out to your doctor and/or a mental health professional. We are here to help and have tools and strategies that can help you resolve issues, gain new skills, and move on to creating the rich, full, and meaningful life you deserve.

Girl up

As I have progressed in my career in mental health counseling it has become increasingly important and meaningful to work with women and girls on self-empowerment and internalized oppression. Due in part to my own journey of dismantling ingrained and dysfunctional internalized sexism, I am acutely aware of how these issues show up in the lives of my clients. I am always looking for new resources and literature on the subject of female empowerment and recently came across Laura Bates’ book, Girl Up. If one can fall in love with a book, that’s what I did. I began wistfully daydreaming about what my life would have been like if I had read this book at 15 (or younger). The book is targeted toward a young female audience, but I think women of all ages can benefit from giving it a read…especially if you are a mother. Girl Up is basically a funny and fearless handbook for becoming a woman in our patriarchal and sexist society. Could it be more fearless? Yes, but I appreciate it for what it is and highly recommend it to others…boys and men too! I was first introduced to Bates’ work when I stumbled across her Everyday Sexism Project, a website where girls and women can upload their real stories of encountering sexism on a daily basis. The site is extremely powerful and is still up and running today. Check out the site and the book when you get a chance. And never be afraid to girl up!