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  • Writer's pictureChelsi Myer

When the "Winter Blues" are SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Depression? Nah.

It was 2006, or maybe '07, I was a college-student, living the dream. I had decent grades, plenty of friends, but the naps were more frequent, and emotionally, I functioned on a scale of numb to terrible. While at home one week, I paid a visit to my doctor. Mono seemed like the most likely culprit to my lazy days and yucky feelings. The test came back negative.

My doc sat down and said, "Chelsi, do you think you could be depressed?" Uh, excuse me? Why would I be depre…..why yes, actually, I think I could be depressed.

Anxiety was a clear cut issue I had battled since my early teenage years, but depression, that sounded more like a serious issue you don't bring up at family gatherings, on a first date, or in the work place. For several years, I was on and off medicine, hoping and praying that I could will the ill feelings away. Yet, every single winter, the not so friendly companion revisits. Some winters are worse than others, but recently, she came to pay a visit again.

Long naps fill my weekends, negative thoughts crowd my mind, a little more weight collects across my waist, and less patience is offered to my husband and daughters. It has been nearly 5 years since I have taken any anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. I'm thankful I do not need them year round like I used to, I never cared much for the numbing side effects. I should note, some people really need them for hormonal imbalances and I am in full support of the necessity of medication.

The sun hasn't shown its face in over a week. The cloudy days match my physical state and my emotional temper. It's dreary and so am I. During this season, I find myself needing more and more time with the Son. Yes, I just attempted a stellar pun. My relationship with God is of the utmost importance every day, yet more noticeable if avoided during the winter months. Despair and hopelessness are not far behind a constant depressing mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not considered as a separate disorder. It is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern. To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years. Seasonal depressions must be much more frequent than any non-seasonal depressions.

Symptoms of Major Depression

Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

Feeling hopeless or worthless

Having low energy

Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

Having problems with sleep

Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

Feeling sluggish or agitated

Having difficulty concentrating

Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD

Having low energy



Weight gain

Craving for carbohydrates

Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)

Symptoms of the less frequently occurring summer seasonal affective disorder

Poor appetite with associated weight loss





Episodes of violent behavior

(All information from NIMH)

Please consult your certified family physician before self-diagnosing or assuming you have major depression or seasonal affective disorder.

How I Combat the Cloudiest Days

1. Two words: Self Care. There's this new-age type of self care that focuses on "just do what makes you happy," but self-care is more than that. By finding joy and embracing peace, I attempt to regularly do one of the following: exercise, a hot bath, yoga, watching a movie, playing cards with my husband, dancing with my daughters, journaling, expressing creativity (working with my hands), organizing (I'm a 1, this brings me SO MUCH JOY), or otherwise.

2. Getting in the Word! Time in my Bible grounds me, helps me see my identity in Christ above all else. God's Living Word is healing. Please, give it a try.

3. Therapy! Holy smokes, therapy. You guys. It has been the greatest experience in times of grief. If you don't have a therapist- get one! If you don't think you need one, you will. If you have had a negative experience, try another one! Having a safe space to spill your guts and process life's hardest traumas is GOLD and worth every penny I have ever spent.

4. Fellowship with one special someone or a small group. I have many dear friends, but one I talk with almost daily. She is a blessing from Heaven and I probably owe her more than I'll ever pay my therapist. My husband owes her 1 million dollars, too.

Are you at Risk for SAD?

If you're a lady like myself, then boom, your risk of SAD increases by four fold compared to men. Congratulations!....not. If you live far from the equator, your risk increases too. I feel like this is obvious considering the sun and all. If you have a family history of depression, then voila, you win this prize of an increased risk of SAD. If you have depression or bipolar disorder, then the symptoms of depression can worsen with seasonal changes. Lastly, younger people tend to have a higher risk for SAD than older adults. Therefore, I won the lottery when it comes to risk for SAD. Count it: female, Kansas-dweller, family history, and younger (currently 31). I'm a walking statistic.

Sure, I may have used some sarcasm talking about SAD, but when you are down in the dumps, humor helps. SAD is serious and if you feel like you might be depressed, please discuss this with your healthcare professional.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Find Joy. Search Hard.

Find joy where you can friends. There is a time for everything. I love Ecclesiastes so much, chapter 3 is my favorite. For everything there is a season, even one to experience sorrow. In the valley we absorb nutrients. Isn't that beautiful? In the hardest, most challenging seasons, God can grow us spiritually and emotionally. We are forced to depend on HIS goodness, HIS faithfulness, and HIS promises - there is a time for everything. This bluesy season will come and go. This is my season to honeymoon with the Lord and feast on His Word, soaking up the rays of His promises when nothing else quite seems right in the world.

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