UTAH (ABC4) – We’ve all heard the term “the winter blues,” but how legitimate is the saying, actually? As it turns out, the phrase may be onto something. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the scientific wording for that unfortunate mood shift many of us experience during the colder months is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or, ironically, SAD. In the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the condition is referred to as a type of depression with seasonal patterns. 

Symptoms of SAD often occur when there is less sunlight available, making January and February the most difficult months for those diagnosed. The effects of SAD usually last for about 40 percent of the year and improve with the arrival of spring. 

Though it’s more common for women to experience SAD than men, nobody is exempt. 

The condition is associated with a biochemical imbalance in the brain caused by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in the winter months. Along with seasonal change comes a shift in many of our circadian rhythms causing us to lose touch with our routines. 

The symptoms of SAD are quite parallel to those of depression, including fatigue, changes in appetite, and loss of interest or pleasure in activities one enjoyed. 

Despite the effects being distressing and overwhelming, there are treatments available, and of course, symptoms can improve on their own. For those who don’t want to wait for a change in weather for their condition to clear up, talk therapy and even Vitamin-D supplements are recommended.