Are You SAD? Me Too. Let’s Talk About it.

Earlier this year, the world lost a great man.  Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors.  I thought he was amazing.  Though most people know that he battled with depression most of his life, I am surprised by how little people actually know about the disorder.  Yes, depression is a disorder.  It is not just some blip of life where you feel down in the dumps.  Everyone has moments of depression, but did you know that about one out of every ten people has severe depression!  That is a lot.  It is fairly common.  There are also so many different forms of depression that I do not have time to go into them all.  So, today we are going to talk about a particular type of depression that I know about very well, SAD.  

I really do not like the winter.  Let me rephrase that.  I really do not like being cooped up because of winter cold.  I love being out side.  I hate being inside.  I get really bad wanderlust and the winter weather, as beautiful as it is, really puts a damper on travel.  Now, I know plenty of people that feel the same way that I do about winter weather.  However, unlike my friends that feel this way about winter, I get super depressed about it.  I lose my appetite, I want nothing to do with people, and my melancholic personality really starts to show big time.  That is not the norm for people who are just not fond of winter.  I have had people come up to me and tell me to cheer up, they tell me to smile, they tell me that if I had Jesus everything would be wonderful, and that if I got enough sleep I would be fine.  Well, tough cookies I guess. I do have Jesus.  So, that is not the problem.  It does not matter how much sleep I get, I live in a world of constantly being sleepy because of DSPD.  That can’t be it.  I am a fairly happy person and I smile quite a bit.  No issue there.  What is the deal then?  Why do I feel like I just want to wall myself up in a tiny room and keep away from people most of the winter?  That is because of a form of depression that I have.  My oma had it too when she was alive. It has a tendency to run in families.  Sometimes it skips a generation.  This is probably the case in my family as my mother is just fine during the winter.  

The form of depression that I mentioned above is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, Winter Blues, Seasonal Depression, and Summertime Sadness.  No, not the song.  Frequently it is known simply as SAD.  It seems to occur mostly in in the far northern countries or in countries with a lot of cloud cover.  Women are also more likely to have SAD than men are.  The good news is that a lot of times you can treat SAD with light therapy.  There are these wonderful devices called light-boxes and they really do help for a lot of people.  I tend to feel better during the winter when I am able to be outside or if I am in a place where there is a lot of light that mimics sunlight.  Sometimes people have had success using negative air ion therapy.  It can be managed with or without medication.  On really bad days when I want nothing more than to curl up in a ball under my quilt and shun the outside world I will take a pill of St. John’s Wort.  It helps quite a bit, but you have to be careful taking it as it can cause major allergic reactions.  So, ask a doctor before taking it.

Depression varies from person to person.  I know several people that have SAD and most of them do not have the exact same symptoms I have.  I also know several people with major depression.  It is not fun to struggle through.  I have days when I just flat do not want to deal with life.  No happy thoughts or reading of my Bible will help.  I just have to deal with it.  The worst thing you can do for someone with depression of any kind is to belittle them by telling them that they just need to cheer up and think happy thoughts.  Like you do not get depressed sometimes!  I have to just walk away from people when they do this to me.  I know what I have and happy thought and cheering up do not help!  I have to work through it.  It does get better though.  I know how to treat my depression and how to handle it. I will say this though, I am very grateful to my friends and family that understand and know how to help me through my episodes of depression.  At times I even get it in the summer if I am cooped up inside for too long.

It gets better.  Trust me.  I know at times you feel like nothing is going right and you just want everything to be over with, but it does get better.  Explain it to people if they try to make you feel like all you need to do is cheer up.  Most people do not understand what depression is.  Living with it is hard.  I understand that.  Everyone gets depressed some times.  Some people have more depressive times than others.  I get that.  Just do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.  There are people that will listen.  Trust me on that.  I know. 

If you do need help and feel like you cannot trust anyone around you, call this number:  1-800-273-TALK (8255).  The people there can help with pretty much any depressive or suicidal thoughts.