Is seasonal depression real? - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Is seasonal depression real?

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This past weekend, the clocks rolled back one-hour. That means shorter days are upon us.

If you dread the darker winter months, chances are you've heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD has been in the medical news for decades. But the cause is still very much a mystery.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the specific cause is still unknown.

Despite thoughts that the disorder is tied to sunlight, a study in 2016 found "depression was unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight."

Dr. Cynthia Kravec with Mercy Healthy explained that different findings could be based on how survey questions are presented.

"A symptom is a symptom, whether it's got a name or it doesn't, whatever you are feeling is true to what you are feeling," said Kravec.

Carmella Hill, Director of Behavioral Health at Coleman Professional Services in Trumbull County, said it's likely because of the difference in opinions that the American Psychiatric Association no longer views Seasonal Affective Disorder as something you can actually be diagnosed with having. SAD is instead viewed as a sub-type of major depression. That though, shouldn't downplay what someone may be feeling.

"The symptoms are real and they are valid although they may not have an actual diagnosis of that," said Hill.

Both medical doctors and mental health professionals in the Valley say the symptoms of SAD are something they see regularly.

"In any given primary care office probably 5-10% of patients will have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder," said Kravec.

Those symptoms can include oversleeping, weight gain, and low energy.

"Some may be to a point where it is very severe and they need to seek medication treatment," said Hill.

So, while we all may experience days where we feel a little down if those days become more and more common see a doctor.

More information on Seasonal Affective Disorder can be found here or by contacting Coleman Behavioral Health.

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