HEALTHY LIVING Unhappy holidays: What is seasonal affective disorder?

Feelings of sadness and anxiety during the cold weather months may be caused by a common condition called seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.

In the midst of football season and holiday gatherings, many people experience unexpected anxiety and depression caused by SAD. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 4 to 6 percent of people in the United States experience this condition, and an additional 10 to 20 percent of the American population has a mild form of SAD during the winter. The cause of SAD remains unknown, but the condition may be related to lack of vitamin D from sunlight.

Signs of SAD

A form of clinical depression, SAD may cause an array of symptoms, including:

• Fatigue

• Feelings of emptiness

• Insomnia

• Irritability

• Suicidal thoughts

• Trouble concentrating

• Unusual pessimism

• Weight gain or loss

If you notice that any of these symptoms are impacting your quality of life, talk with your provider about your condition and treatment options.

Natasha Clayton, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, and Abbey Shields, MNSc, APRN, FNP-C, of Siloam Springs Family Medicine, are accepting new and walk-in patients. Same-day appointments are available. To schedule an appointment today, call 479-215-3035. Siloam Springs Family Medicine is located at 3721 E. U.S. Highway 412 in Siloam Springs.

Finding solutions

Behavioral changes, light therapy, talk therapy and certain prescription medications may be used to treat SAD. Your provider may recommend one therapy or a combination of treatments depending on your individual condition.

Exercise and healthful eating may help manage milder cases of SAD, while more severe conditions may need to be treated with antidepressant medications.

Tips to fill yourself with positive energy

Living life to the fullest is often easier said than done. When juggling work, family, friends and other responsibilities, it's natural to get caught up in the daily grind. But negative energy can often result from not living mindfully.

Giving your life a positive makeover may sound overwhelming and unrealistic when you look at the challenge in the big picture. By choosing just one point of focus each week or month at a time, you can take impactful steps to energize your body, mind and spirit.

• Expect the best -- While preparation for worst-case scenarios can help us manage challenging circumstances if and when they arise, anticipating negative situations can negatively impact emotional and mental health. Try to maintain a positive outlook in every situation. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, optimism may improve everything from cancer outcomes to heart health.

• Get moving -- Our bodies are happiest when they are doing what they are designed to do -- move. Find opportunities to exercise throughout the day to help boost your mood, control your weight, and reduce your risk of developing certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

• Practice gratitude -- According to Harvard Medical School, being grateful for your blessings in life may benefit physical health, help improve your relationships and increase productivity in the workplace.

Remember, focus on one change at a time to establish realistic, sustainable changes.

General News on 12/11/2019