Seasonal Pattern Depression: What does it mean? What are the signs?

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INDIANAPOLIS — Seasonal Affective Disorder, now referred to as Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern, is soon to be at its peak as the winter months are fast approaching.

Like many mental health illnesses, it may be difficult to compartmentalize signs and symptoms to possibly seek treatment.

Kimble Richardson, Manager of Business Development and Referrals Behavioral Health at Community, says, “People who have Season Pattern Depression, that’s associated with what we call recurrent episodes, which means more than one time in years in a row.”

“So, it’s not someone who has had a series of difficult stressful situations and therefore put me into a depressive episode, this is a specific pattern of having depressive symptoms,” Richardson continued.

Seasonal Pattern Depression is most likely to begin in the darker, colder months.

The lack of light that the human body receives is the main reason why Seasonal Pattern Depression begins and exists in the first place.

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“If you go way back, light means, ‘it’s time to be up and active'”, explained Richardson. “As long as there have been human beings on the earth, we have gone by cues to tell us what to do, and for us, that is sunlight.”

Richardson explained that for those who live in states where there tends to be more sunlight, such as Florida, Seasonal Pattern Depression is less likely to occur in that population. Whereas in a state such as Indiana, it is more likely due to the lack of sunlight received during the winter months.

Although Seasonal Pattern Depression is most likely to begin in November/December, Richardson said it could easily occur in the spring and summer times as well.

Richardson suggests that if you begin to see signs and symptoms of Seasonal Pattern Depression, seek professional help right away, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts.

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“Anytime anybody has a change in their ability to cope, difficulty with working, difficulty functioning in your personal life, get it checked out. That typically means speaking with your family doctor, speaking with a mental health professional, your spiritual advisor, or your friends and family,” he explained.

Some signs of Seasonal Pattern Depression include but are not limited to:

  • Hypersomnia (oversleeping)
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Lack of interest in usual activities and decreased socialization

Richardson and his colleagues at Community Health suggest, when you feel the time is right, or maybe if you feel as if you need a more professional outlet, to seek local help or dial 211 for the crisis hotline. You don’t need to be in a crisis to call.

For more resources and information visit the Community’s Mental and Behavioral Health website.

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