Me and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me and sent me props after my last post on the Anxiety, which I still regularly contend with.  It means a lot.  And I am so lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive community.

While Anxiety is still very present in my life, as I’ve noted before, It is not the all-consuming presence it used to be.  I credit my meds and therapy for the extreme reduction in Anxiety’s symptoms from which I could suffer.

But a few months ago, I noticed an uptick in the symptoms and intensity of those symptoms.  I worried that my meds were starting to lose their effectiveness, but I did nothing immediately to figure things out.  (Note to self: That’s not good.)

And then I quite recently went to my mental health med doctor for a regularly scheduled check-up.  I told her what was going on and the things I was trying to do to address it (i.e. regular morning exercise, daily meditation, slightly bumping up one of the meds my doctor allows me to tinker with as needed).

She nodded, but then asked (as a reminder to herself), “Do you have Seasonal Affective Disorder?”

(According to the Mayo Clinic:  Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of Depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.)

I replied, “Yes,” but thought to myself:  SAD is about Depression and Anxiety attached to Depression.

I never thought of SAD as something that could raise your Anxiety levels without also triggering Depression, which I don’t currently suffer from.

My doctor noted that there was increasing evidence that SAD could trigger Anxiety just as it does Depression.

My doctor then asked when the Anxiety symptoms started?  I replied, “Late October or early November.”  “Ruh-roh!” I said to myself.

My doctor then explained that it’s quite likely my SAD was triggering more Anxiety in my life, and with it, the increased negative self-talk I’ve been engaged in.  She encouraged me to start my light therapy again.

For those who don’t know about SAD, one of the treatments for the mood disorder is to sit near what’s called a “full-spectrum light” for about 20 minutes each morning.  It fools the brain, mimicking the bright sunlight of the warmer months.

I have a full-spectrum light; I call it my “happy-light” because for several years it has dramatically lessened the Depression I experienced during winter months.

For the past week, I’ve been using my happy light.  Stay tuned, readers. I’ll report on if my symptoms improve as winter moves along.