Something about this week has made so many of us want to curl up in our beds and stay there. The gray skies, the pouring rain, the chilly temperatures - all of it makes some of us in Buffalo feel, well, blah. 

This, of course, comes with the territory when fall arrives in Western New York. But for some reason, this week it seems to have hit us harder than most. Even those of us who usually have heaps of energy have just wanted to curl up in a ball and take a nap. What gives?

You could be starting to experience symptoms of something that affects thousands of Buffalonians this time of year - seasonal affective disorder.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, commonly abbreviated as SAD (ironic, we know) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons.”

Basically, day after of gray skies and rainy, cold weather can wreak havoc on our brains and bodies in ways that make us feel like crap. Some examples include:

  • Lack of sunlight can lead to a drop in our serotonin levels (the chemical in our brain that affects our mood). 
  • The sun produces Vitamin D in our system, which also helps to boost serotonin in our system. No sun = lower Vitamin D levels = feeling bummed out. 
  • The reduced sun can also disrupt our biological clock, making it harder to wake up in the morning than usual. 

Ahh, so that explains why so many of us have wanted to take a nap in the middle of the day this week. But SAD can also bring about more severe symptoms besides feeling exhausted and lazy.

Other Symptoms of SAD

Besides just feeling increasingly tired and sleepy, you could experience other symptoms like:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Feeling anxious and irritable
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Loss of ability to focus

SAD is more than just the “winter blues.” If left untreated, these symptoms could lead to detrimental consequences, so you need to take them seriously.

How To Treat SAD

First and foremost, if you think you’re experiencing any symptoms of SAD, you need to talk to your doctor ASAP. They may recommend treatments such as:

  • Light exposure therapy
  • Increased physical activity
  • Medication

Winter in Buffalo can be a fantastic time, but if these past few gray days have been starting to bum you out, take your symptoms seriously and ask for help.

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