Samaritan Counseling Center
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December 4, 2023

The fall and winter seasons have a different meaning for different individuals. For some, fall marks the summer’s end and indicates that cooler weather is on the way. Many love the fall season because of nostalgia, holidays, and new beginnings. While many identify the fall season positively, others define it negatively. When the leaves change color and wilt from the trees, some people experience a dip in their mood. The fall season triggers some people to experience increased stress and or anxiety, which has been coined as autumn anxiety.

The clinical diagnosis for autumn anxiety is called seasonal affective disorder. SAD is a mood disorder classified by depressive traits. Though symptoms vary from person to person, many experience similar signs that something is wrong. Depressive disorders affect individuals’ mood, sleep, physical body, and behavior. SAD is sometimes called winter depression because the symptoms are often present during the season when the days are shorter. The symptoms of seasonal depressive disorder have been reported to be more severe during December, January, and February. In some cases, the symptoms of seasonal affected depression tend to lessen and eventually disappear in the spring. The signs of seasonal affective disorder often reappear during the same time every year.

From the fall to the spring, nearly 10 million people are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder yearly. SAD has been recently diagnosed more consistently in women than in men and, in recent years, has been diagnosed more consistently in younger adults than in older adults. Researchers believe that the surge in diagnosis of younger adults can be related to the effects of the pandemic. The Bible teaches us that the consistency of the earth’s seasons reflects its maker and the steadiness of his character. In an effort to mimic the maker’s consistency, I believe it is important to strengthen awareness and make a valiant effort to cope with the symptoms. Preparation for a yearly and seasonal deficiency requires individuals to understand the causes to help them act accordingly.

The cause of Seasonal Depressive disorder is not yet fully understood but is being linked to several factors. During the fall and winter seasons, individuals experience reduced exposure to sunlight. Less sunlight can cause a drop in melatonin and serotonin, affecting an individual’s sleep and mood patterns.

Researchers believe that many different factors contribute to seasonal-affected disorders. Individuals who have a history of depression could inherit traits, those who have had an adverse childhood experience, and those with psychological factors could suffer from seasonal-affected disorder. It sometimes takes several years to fully diagnose SAD because practitioners must be sure that individuals are experiencing the symptoms consistently and every year.

Treating and adequately coping with SAD requires individuals to put forth purposeful effort. Most depressive disorders are typically treated with talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, and in some cases, meds are used.

With less sunlight, our daily routines are interrupted this time of year. If processes like sleeping and waking up are affected, they must be acknowledged and maintained healthily. Another form of therapy that could be helpful is called light therapy. In this form of therapy, light boxes are used to mimic sunlight indoors.

Foundationally, it is important for individuals to develop an understanding of what they lack during this season and be purposeful in restoring what is missing in the effort to maintain balance.

George Ishman knew at an early age he wanted to be an advocate for change and an inspiration for individuals who live in communities facing economic challenges. Ishman received his undergraduate degree in English from ASU in 2017, where he graduated Cum Laude. He obtained his Master of Science Degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy University in 2021. As a new counselor, George is looking forward to helping clients find solutions and resources that will support their efforts to achieve their optimal level of functioning. George provides Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral Modification Therapy, and Supportive Therapy for adults and adolescents.

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The Samaritan Counseling Center (SCC) is here to provide healing. A not-for-profit organization, we’re committed to providing fully-integrated, high quality, team-oriented, cost-efficient counseling and educational programming.

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