Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness


While love may be in the air with Valentine’s Day, the cold wintery days with little to no sun can be difficult to handle for many. These winter days that are short and dark can lead many people begin to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

This mood disorder is linked to seasonal changes in light and is marked by periods of depression, fatigue, poor eating habits, mood swings and social avoidance. These symptoms typically begin during the late fall, as the daylight hours shorten, and continue through the winter months as we begin to see more gray skies, less sunlight and cold weather that keeps people indoors.

HSHS Holy Family Hospital supports the following tips provided by American Psychiatric Association to help overcome SAD this winter.

Get outside: Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.

Light up your life: Whether the forecast is sunny or cloudy, open the blinds or drapes throughout the house. Being able to look outside and take in natural light can provide an instant boost to your spirits.

Watch what you eat: Avoid foods that are high in sugar or fat and limit alcohol consumption. Instead eat protein, vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates for a nutritional energy boost.

Practice stress management: Learn techniques to manage your stress better. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, overeating or other unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Surround yourself with your favorite people: Friends and family can provide warmth, strength and stimulation to keep you feeling positive through the winter months.

If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms, please consult your physician. For more information about SAD please refer to:

HSHS Holy Family Hospital Inpatient Senior Behavioral Health

Holy Family Hospital Senior Wellness Unit is an inpatient 10-bed, Medicare-certified service designed to address issues specifically related to individuals 55 years and older. When someone is suffering from behavioral health problems, it is important for those who are around that person to know how to identify possible behaviors that might necessitate further evaluation. Watch for the following signs:

Depressed mood

Diminished interest in activities

Feelings of worthlessness

Recurrent thoughts of death

Marked personality changed

Numerous, unexplained physical ailments or changes in eating and sleeping patterns

Confused thinking, inability to concentrate and/or memory loss

Excessive fears, anxieties or suspiciousness

Withdrawal from family, friends and others

Abuse of alcohol or medications

Growing inability to cope with daily living, resulting in unsafe behaviors



The main goal for Holy Family’s Inpatient Senior Behavioral Health Unit is to improve and maintain each patient’s self-respect and dignity, placing equal emphasis on the healing of mind, body and spirit. The unit offers high-quality care in a pleasant, short-term, secure setting. For more information, call 618-664-2240.

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