Seasonal Affective Disorder

a.k.a. SAD – ironic, eh? 

According to the DSM IV (what psychologists/psychiatrists use to diagnose disorders, etc)…

Stolen from the aafp’s website:

TABLE 1
Diagnostic Criteria for a Major Depressive Episode
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  1. At least five of the following symptoms have been present during the same two-week period, nearly every day, and represent a change from previous functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. NOTE: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.(1) Depressed mood (or alternatively can be irritable mood in children and adolescents).
    (2) Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities.
    (3) Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite. |
    (4) Insomnia or hypersomnia.
    (5) Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
    (6) Fatigue or loss of energy.
    (7) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
    (8) Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
    (9) Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
  2. The symptoms are not better accounted for by a mood disorder due to a general medical condition, a substance-induced mood disorder, or bereavement (normal reaction to the death of a loved one).
  3. The symptoms are not better accounted for by a psychotic disorder like schizoaffective disorder.

Reprinted with permission from American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1994:327. Copyright 1994.

and

TABLE 2
Criteria for Seasonal Pattern Specifier
  1. Regular temporal relationship between the onset of major depressive episodes and a particular time of the year (unrelated to obvious season-related psychosocial stressors)
  2. Full remissions (or a change from depression to mania or hypomania) also occur at a characteristic time of the year
  3. Two major depressive episodes meeting criteria A and B in last two years and no nonseasonal episodes in the same period
  4. Seasonal major depressive episodes substantially outnumber the nonseasonal episodes over the individual’s lifetime

Reprinted with permission from American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1994:390. Copyright 1994.

So, I’ve believed for some time now that I have this condition because when winter comes, I get really depressed. I feel lifeless at times…like I have no purpose but to just walk around bundled in warm clothing and do nothing. When warm weather returns, I perk back up, although, I’m not a happy little hippo. I just feel a lot less depressed.

I dread this winter because it will be my first non-pregnant, hormonal winter. I know it’s getting ready to get worse; worse than it has ever been. I’ve never been on birth control and thus far, I’ve felt like an on-edge crazy woman for the most part. I’m not sure if I want to endure this for the next 5 years.

Will it ever get better? Will this irritability subside? How long until I feel normal??

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