It’s no secret that everyone experiences ups-and-downs in life, and we all have swings in mood from time to time. But certain times of the year, especially the approach of winter with its shorter, colder days, can also bring a particular case of the “blahs” known as seasonal depression to some people.
“Typically, symptoms begin in fall to early winter and stop the following spring or summer,” says Kelly King, PMHNP with FirstHealth Behavioral Services.
Patients with Seasonal Depression typically experience a loss of energy, excessive sleep, overeating, weight gain and a craving for carbohydrates.
King describes the indicators that help make a diagnosis of seasonal depression. “First, we look for a pattern where these symptoms come and at the same time of year for at least two years,” says King. “We also confirm that the patient doesn’t have another event or episode during those times that could cause their depression.”
King says the first steps to treating seasonal depression usually include the prescription of an antidepressant medication as well as light therapy. Utilizing light boxes that imitate outdoor light, the therapy causes a chemical change in the brain that helps improve symptoms related to seasonal depression.
“We also encourage proper sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep cycle, as well as daily physical activity,” says King. “We are also able to add psychotherapy for patients who don’t see their symptoms improve with other treatments.”
FirstHealth’s Behavioral Services clinics in Pinehurst and Rockingham offer help to Seasonal Depression patients through medication management and individual therapy. The Rockingham clinic also hosts a mood group twice a week that many patients with Seasonal Depression find beneficial, King says.
The Behavioral Services Clinic in Pinehurst is located in the Specialty Centers Building on the campus of Moore Regional Hospital at 35 Memorial Drive. The Rockingham clinic is located in the Medical Park Building beside Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond at 921 S. Long Drive in Rockingham.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Pinehurst clinic, call (910) 715-3370 or the Rockingham clinic at (910) 417-3661.
Courtesy photo of Kelly King, PMHNP.