Do you get the “winter” blues or feel upset when there are long periods of a dull sky and rainy weather? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a very real condition that affects many people and some may not even realize that a lack of sunlight is what’s causing their moody behavior.

In this post, we will discuss this condition, the causes, the symptoms and how an emotional support animal can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

This condition usually follows the changes of season, starting in the autumn months and lasting the duration of the winter. This can be especially prevalent in those areas of the world where the snowfall is heavy and the daylight hours are limited.

SAD can also make the person feel depressed in the spring and summer months as well, but this seems to be lesser of the cases.

What Causes SAD?

girl sad

Although, science is still not clear on why SAD occurs, there are three main areas of seasonal affective disorder that may come into play; circadian rhythms, drop in serotonin, and a drop in melatonin levels. Let’s explore these further…  

  1. Circadian Rhythms (biological clock) – When there is a lack of regular sunshine in the winter months, this can disrupt your internal clock, making you feel depressed.
  2. Serotonin – Sunlight plays a role in our brain chemistry, specifically the neurotransmitters, which affects our moods.
  3. Melatonin – this chemical plays a role in our sleep patterns and mood. When the sunlight is limited, our melatonin may drop causing us to feel depressed.

Symptoms of SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder generally comes and goes with the changes of the weather; however, SAD can also be a subtype of major depression. The symptoms of major depression include;

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, every day
  • Feeling worthless and hopeless
  • Low energy and loss of interest in activities that were once fun
  • Weight loss or lack of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Thoughts of death/suicide

Autumn & Winter Season Affective Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms related to winter-onset SAD or “winter depression” include;

  • Low energy/tired
  • Irritability
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection and trouble getting along with people
  • Oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite, especially craving food high in carb
  • Weight gain
  • Legs and arms feel heavy

Spring & Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Although less common, the symptoms of summer-onset SAD or summer depression include;

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite/weight loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or feelings of agitation

How an Emotional Support Animal Can Treat S.A.D.

An emotional support animal may be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms of a seasonal affective disorder. Although, an ESA can be of any species, having a canine companion may be the biggest help for people with SAD.

Dogs are many things but seem to be the best at sensing the moods of their owners. This can help people with SAD as they spend much of their time feeling down and depressed and their dog will be there to give unconditional love and support.

Having a canine ESA will also give the person with seasonal affective disorder a reason to go outside. Regardless of the weather, dogs need to be walked and played with, which are also both excellent mood-boosters. Lastly, any ESA regardless of species will make a good listener and will not judge the person for their depression or seasonal blues.

ESA’s & Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you think you may be suffering from any form of a seasonal affective disorder, be sure to bring it to the attention of your doctor or mental health professional. He or she will ask you a number of poignant questions to determine if SAD is indeed what you are suffering from. If so, you may be prescribed medication, psychotherapy and even light therapy (phototherapy) that mimics sunlight.

If you feel an emotional support animal may also add to your therapy program, be sure to get an animal that works best for you. Finding joy in your ESA is a big part of the reason why it works so well.

Don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder a moment longer. You only have one life, it should be spent in joy, love, and peace of mind.

See if you qualify for an emotional support animal below.


Get the love and support you deserve.