I call it “the cloud.” That hazy, dark heaviness that has enveloped me each and every November as long as I can remember. For anyone who also suffers from symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, you surely can relate to this feeling.
For a long time, seasonal affective disorder didn’t even have a clinical name, until Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. , Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University and author of Winter Blues, published a journal article in 1984 in which seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was described for the first time. After moving from sunny South Africa to the Northeast United States, Rosenthal wasn’t accustomed to the short, dark days he experienced after daylight saving time. He set out to collaborate with medical professionals and scientists to research winter blues, studying melatonin suppression and light exposure.
“All these threads came together,” Rosenthal says.
Now considered to be a diagnosable medical condition, seasonal affective disorder can strike people as early as August. Common symptoms include depression, low energy, sluggishness, and weight changes. While many people with SAD experience symptoms during winter, some individuals deal with summer seasonal affective disorder. (Here are 6 signs you might have the summer blues.) My own dwindling energy and glum mood typically start right around daylight saving time.
But seasonal affective disorder isn't inevitable. You can mitigate the severity of the symptoms, especially if you get started early in the season: Professionals recommend starting at the first signs of fall.
Here's how to stop seasonal affective disorder before it starts.