Grundy County Memorial Hospital | Live Well | Winter 2023

3 Feel like hibernating? It could be seasonal depression Do you feel your mood and energy levels wane as winter’s shorter days of sunlight arrive? If so, you could have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD, sometimes called the winter blues, is actually a form of depression. It typically starts in the fall, deepens in winter and goes away in spring and summer. “Winter is a time that can really bring about feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness—especially for the older population,” says Dannielle Goodell, BSN, RN, GCMH Senior Life Solutions Program Director. SAD seems to be driven by the seasonal dimming of sunlight in winter. Low light may interfere with hormones involved in mood and sleep, which, in some people, may contribute to feeling depressed, sleepy and sluggish. Here in the northern hemisphere, your chances of having SAD increase the farther north you live from the equator. SAD is also four times more common in women than in men. How it feels Many of the symptoms of SAD are like those of major depression except that they come and go with the seasons. They include: ● Feeling sad or in a low mood most of the time. ● Wanting to sleep a lot. ● Having low energy, even if you sleep too much. ● Losing interest in your usual activities. ● Gaining weight from overeating, especially carbohydrates (think bread, pasta and pastries). ● Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty. ● Having trouble concentrating. ● Having thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms like these, there is help: ● Make an appointment with your primary care provider. ● For immediate help, the walk-in Mental Health Clinic at UnityPoint Health–Allen Hospital inWaterloo, Entrance 6B, offers mental health assessments without an appointment. The clinic is available Monday through Friday. ● The hospital’s Senior Life Solutions program is an outpatient behavioral health program designed to meet the needs of those 65 and above. Group and individual counseling is provided. Contact Goodell for more information at 319-824-4126. In cases of seasonal depression, treatment may involve spending time near a special light box (light therapy), taking medications, undergoing counseling or doing a combination of these things. Sources: American Psychiatric Association; National Institute of Mental Health Dannielle Goodell, BSN, RN, Senior Life Solutions Program Director