Help for Tennesseeans Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | 08:11am

NASHVILLE –Based on national estimates, thousands of Tennesseans struggle through the cold and dreary winter season with feelings of prolonged sadness. For an estimated 4 to 6 percent of the population, winter brings about periods of fatigue and in some cases anxiety known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD).

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) recognizes SAD as a mood disorder that follows a pattern related to seasonal variations in sunlight.

“We all go through periods of feeling down,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner TDMHSAS. “SAD is something more serious than the occasional blues and can lead some people into periods of deep depression due in part to fewer hours of daylight in the winter months.”

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Food Cravings, Changes in Appetite
Depression, Avoidance of Social Situations
Excessive Need for Sleep

“If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, a mental health professional can accurately diagnose SAD and offer treatment options,” said Dr. Howard Burley, TDMHSAS Medical Director.  “Gender may also play a role, as the disorder is four times more common in women than men. And young adults over the age of 20 are also more likely to suffer from SAD.”

Easy Ways to Boost Your Mood in Winter

Get Outside in the Fresh Air
Expose Yourself to More Natural Light
Exercise and Maintain Proper Nutrition

“Here in Tennessee, the effects of SAD may not be as pronounced as they are in regions to the north where the winter season is longer and colder,” said Commissioner Varney. “If you or someone you know may be experiencing SAD, it’s best to consult a healthcare or mental health provider and follow their recommendations."

If you or someone you care for is experiencing bouts of sadness and depression that seem more severe or concerning, the condition may be suggestive of something more serious.

For help in Tennessee, call the Toll-Free Statewide Crisis Telephone Line
1-855-274-7471 or 1-855 CRISIS 1


The mission of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is to plan for
and promote the availability of a comprehensive array of quality prevention, early intervention, treatment,
habilitation and rehabilitation services and supports based on the needs and choices of individuals and
families served. For more information, visit

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