"Fall-back" time change connected to seasonal depression

Experts say Seasonal Affective Disorder is a different type of depression that comes around when the seasons change. For the fall/winter version, that starts right around fall Daylight Savings time. (image WTVC)

When you think of Daylight Saving time in the fall, immediately you may think about the extra hour of sleep you get. Experts warn a temporary, seasonal kind of depression, can come with the time change too.

When you "fall-back" for daylight saving this Sunday, you may notice less daylight during your normal routine day. Chattanooga psychologist Sam Bernard says that is one reason people could experience what's called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

"Low energy, sleeping more, over eating," Bernard said as he described symptoms. "Possible weight gain, craving carbohydrates and social withdraw."

It's a type of depression that comes only when the seasons change. Bernard says there is a fall/winter and a spring/summer version.

"The winter version has to do with the exposure to the light," he said. After daylight saving this weekend, the days will seem shorter and the moon will come out sooner. Less daylight in your daily routine could trigger some depression tendencies, but how do you know if that's SAD, and not something else?

"If it's a Season Affect Disorder, once the symptom presentation starts, it usually ends in about 10 weeks," said Bernard. He added there are people with higher risk of suffering from the disorder:

  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are diagnosed with SAD four times as often as men
  • The farther people live from the equator, the more likely they are to suffer from SAD
  • People with a family history of any depression
  • People with a history of depression or bipolar disorder
  • Younger adults are more likely that older adults

Experts say you would have to feel the symptoms for at least two years to be diagnosed, but if you think you are prone to the disorder there are a few things you can do to minimize the stress, before the clocks move backward:

  • If you normally exercise after work, try exercising earlier in the morning, before work
  • Light therapy
  • Higher intake of Vitamin D
  • Psychotherapy

To learn more about tips with coping and preventing SAD, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website.

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