Stop Seasonal Affective Disorder from Making Your Holidays SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD IntegrityMind Psychiatry

Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Winter Blues

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us, and along with the usual festivities, including family, fun and food, can also come the stress of shopping, decorating, entertaining and more. Our days get fuller just as our daylight hours get shorter, which for some, can bring a change in energy level, mood, sleep and even appetite.

At Integrity Mind Psychiatry, we recommend a few helpful tips for dealing with normal stress and anxiety during the holidays. Things like taking a walk, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet can make a big difference when things get overwhelming.

At certain times of the year, however, you may notice that your typical anxiety has become a little more intense. If you’ve noticed you’re feeling down, depressed, lethargic or just plain sad lately, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), millions of Americans suffer from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly referred to as SAD. It’s a type of depression characterized by a recurrent seasonal pattern, occurring more in the winter months, though it can, in rarer cases, happen in spring and summer.

If you already struggle with depression, you may notice your symptoms are intensified during the fall and winter months, when it gets dark earlier and the weather may be less sunny than in spring and summer. It may help to know that these feelings are extremely common and can, in many cases, be temporary.

Some common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

  • Feeling sad or down most of the time
  • Lack of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Decrease in energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Food cravings and/or weight gain
  • Irritability

If you’re experiencing the “winter blues,” there are some effective treatments to combat the symptoms and help you enjoy your holidays.

  • Light therapy. Since daylight hours are limited during fall and winter, light therapy has been found to be effective for those with SAD. Sitting in front of a box emitting bright light (20-30 times brighter than ordinary light) for 30-45 minutes each day can significantly improve your mood. (For those on certain medications or with some eye conditions, light therapy may not be recommended.)
  • Talk therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help you learn how to cope during the winter months. Talk therapy can help improve your mood by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Medication. SAD, like other types of depression, involves a disruption in serotonin, so antidepressant medication can be an effective way to enhance your mood and get you through the holidays. Dr. Paul Wright can help you determine whether medication is the best way to go and decide which antidepressant may be best for you.
  • Vitamin D. As many people with SAD have Vitamin D deficiency, taking a supplement may help improve symptoms.

The most important part of dealing with SAD symptoms is addressing them with your doctor before things become too overwhelming. Dr. Wright will work with you to find a treatment plan that best fits your needs and your lifestyle. He knows that each patient is as unique as their fingerprint, and he will utilize his depth of knowledge and extensive experience to find the best solution for you during the holidays and all year round.

About Dr. Wright

In addition to treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dr. Wright also treats patients with issues, such as:

  • Addiction
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Navigating Life Transitions
  • Relationship Challenges
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia


Dr. Wright takes a holistic approach to mental health that involves a combination of leading-edge treatment with good old-fashioned bedside (or phone side) manner. He sees patients in person in his Grapevine or Plano offices and also welcomes telehealth calls, allowing you to receive personalized care from the comfort of your own home.

He is a physician with specialization and double board certification in General Adult Psychiatry and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry. He continues to seek out the latest advancements in psychiatry and psychotherapy and is experienced in working with children, teens and adults. He is also tri-lingual, speaking English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

To learn more about Dr. Wright’s approach or to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment, visit Integrity Mind Psychiatry or call us at 682-253-2783.