If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you may be battling through a winter slump. The days are longer and grayer. You may have noticed your motivation lagging, too. 

Many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a subtype of depression that occurs around the same time each year, particularly during winter months.

Also referred to as the "winter blues," SAD is a mood disorder that can compromise your health, well-being, and happiness. According to Cleveland Clinic, approximately half a million people in the U.S. experience seasonal depression and three-quarters are women. 

There are subtle differences, however, between an energy lull and seasonal affective disorder.

Be on the look out for these signs:

  1. You are very irritable and sensitive to stress. You react more easily to perceived criticism.
  2. You're getting into little arguments with colleagues and other people in your life. 
  3. You have low energy most days, for the majority of the day.
  4. You find yourself withdrawing or dreading previously enjoyable social activities, including interactions around the office or with family and friends. 
  5. You're uninterested or sense a loss of passion towards your business, interests, and tasks you typically enjoy. You feel a general sense of apathy towards your goals. 
  6. You have trouble concentrating and are battling brain fog. 
  7. Your appetite changed. You may find yourself craving carbohydrates and sweets more than usual. Or you may not be hungry at all. 
  8. You have trouble making everyday decisions
  9. You need more recovery time. Perhaps you've missed meetings you overslept or are behind on deadlines because you're so exhausted. 

Having a few down days here and there is normal, but if these signs sound familiar, take it seriously. 

Thankfully, there are many ways to manage symptoms of SAD such as light therapy, psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes like nutrition and exercise. Talk to your doctor about SAD, especially if you notice any of the above symptoms that last two weeks or longer.

Relief is possible. 

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