Even though I’ve been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and wouldn’t even consider going off my medication, I have doubts about some of the syndromes and disorders that are talked about in the psychiatric field. I question how far they go to find something wrong with a patient. I question whether there is actually something wrong or could they be taking away the individualism of people.
There are three schools of thought about the disorder, SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder]. Some say is it an actual diagnosis. Others say it’s just another term for clinical depression. Still, others are proclaiming this analysis is altogether invalid. I fall into the last category — of course, as a layman.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] is a subtype of depression, something like bipolar depression is. They reel off a batch of symptoms that, in my opinion, are way too common for almost everyone, except for maybe the first one listed.
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
[list quoted from the Mayo Clinic site]
They say these symptoms may be included. Does that mean they may not be present with the disorder? To me, it’s an ill-defined diagnosis and has me skeptical of the disorder itself.
My doubt comes from knowing how events can lead to clinical depression. True, maybe people are more serious during the winter months but that doesn’t mean they are depressed. If something occurs that puts the burden of grief or anxiety on a person during these months of less daylight, it would seem logical the person would be more susceptible to clinical depression. However, I disbelieve it’s the lack of daylight, itself, that is causing the deep sadness.
I’ve pondered on the notion that people of current society are more susceptible to clinical depression during the winter season. I think people have become more isolated since the boom of technology and have more of a tendency to use a phone, tablet, laptop, or personal computer to fill their time rather than seeking companionship with a friend or family member. People aren’t going to see the reactions on a device like they would if they spend real time with another person. I can certainly understand how that would make a person more somber. Still, that is not SAD.
Mayo Clinic’s list includes problems with sleep. There are so many reasons why a person is having such a problem, whether it be sleeping too much or not enough. According to Healthline, it could be as simple as there’s so much going on in a person’s life that there are days when he or she isn’t getting enough sleep and, then, when there is a day of leisure, that person will sleep for fifteen hours in one stretch. The site goes on to explain it could be something more serious like:
And they were not talking about SAD being one of the depression aspects.
I agree the lack of daylight is annoying so I do what I can to combat it. I will spend the little extra to have lights on throughout the house during the day. I’ll even turn on a second light so reading or writing isn’t a strain on my eyes. If I feel I’m getting too serious, I’ll call a friend or a family member just to chat for a bit. Being serious is the way I am most comfortable but sometimes a person has to break away from it. Just stepping outside even though it’s cloudy and maybe even wet with rain or snow can be exhilarating, lightning up my mood.
I’m sure there are those who disagree with me, believing SAD is a real form of depression. Chances are those people suffer from depression each winter, not realizing the underlying cause of it. To those who suffer, I wish you success in finding the cause and also hope you have the courage needed to overcome it.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow