By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
When the days grow shorter, darker and colder, it is not uncommon to feel a little less energetic and free than during warmer seasons.
But people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, generally have a larger problem with depression or bipolar disorder, according to area counselors.
Usually when a person seeks treatment for another kind of problem, particularly depression, what can happen is that a seasonal affective component will emerge, “which means that in the winter months, they have had a cyclical pattern of becoming more depressed in the winter months,” said Ron Pearse, a psychologist who practices in Fairmont.
Sometimes, but not often, Pearse added, “You have people who have more depression in the summer, but that’s not typical. It’s more in the months where there is low light, less hours of illumination.”
Studies have shown that people in a place such as New Hampshire are more likely to experience the symptoms of SAD than in Florida, Pearse added.
Heidi A. Taylor, a licensed professional counselor at Wedgewood Psychiatry Associates in Morgantown, said about 80 percent of people who have SAD are diagnosed with depression and 20 percent with bipolar disorder.
“It’s just a seasonal pattern or a specifier,” she said. “It’s really looking at people developing symptoms at a specific time of year.”
Anyone who experiences symptoms of SAD, which can include a change in sleep patterns — sleeping too much or having trouble getting to or staying asleep — along with changes in appetite such as eating too much or too many carbohydrates, should first discuss the situation with their doctor.