Gloomy winter weather increases depression cases

Seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as seasonal depression, can effect up to 5 percent of adults and up to 20 percent can have some symptoms, but psychologists say there is more to seasonal depression than feeling sad between November and February. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more a part of regular depression, rather than being a disorder all on its own, said Mark Nafziger, a psychologist working in the counseling and psychological services department at USU. He said it is difficult to identify cases of pure SAD because usually if someone claims they get depressed in the winter, there are usually depressive tendencies the rest of the year and it’s just that winter is an added stressor in their lives, so symptoms can become more severe. Thorana Nelson, who works in the marriage and family therapy clinic, said seasonal depression has become too big of a deal in society and people are making it out to be more than it actually is. “People expect to get it now so they do, there are so many factors that go into SAD that most people don’t understand,” Nelson said. Nafziger said, “I have seen very few cases I would consider pure seasonal depression where they are perfectly fine the rest of the year and really depressed between November and February. However, there have certainly been people that I would say tend to get depressed in the winter time each year.” However, David Stein, a professor and psychologist, said SAD is very real and is a subtype of major depressive disorder. He said there are certain factors that have to happen before someone will be diagnosed with SAD. A person has to have recurring episodes for two years and it is directly related to weather change, not other outside sources. “Depression often occurs in episodes but this pattern is predominant during a seasonal change,” Stein said.

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