What is Seasonal Affective Disorder ...
and how can you cope with it?

Seasonal Affective   Disorder (SAD) goes beyond the winter blues. It goes beyond feeling tired or sad or disliking winter. SAD is a form of clinical  depression  that can start around fall or winter, as the days get shorter and darker, and typically remits in the spring or summer. SAD affects around 14 million Americans. About 14 percent of American adults struggle with the winter blues.

People with SAD experience a variety of physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms that impairs their daily functioning. They’re usually unable to perform at school or work and have difficulty interacting with others. Tasks that once seemed simple, such as household chores or paying the bills, suddenly become overwhelming.

The ability to think clearly also becomes impaired. In fact, the disorder causes many problems for people at work. These at-work problems can often occur: decreased concentration, productivity, interest, and creativity; inability to complete tasks; increased interpersonal difficulties in the workplace; increased absences from work; and simply stopping work.

Light therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressants are effective in treating SAD. If you’re struggling with a mild case of the winter blues, the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful. Specifically, it helps clients identify and incorporate enjoyable activities into their lives and to identify, challenge and change negative thoughts Look for fun activities that you can do in the cold months, and avoid spending a lot of time in bed and isolating yourself. Also, be mindful of your negative attitudes and thoughts about winter, and try to challenge them. This sounds a lot easier than it really is. Depression zaps your energy and desire to do anything, so engaging in activities may be incredibly difficult. 

If you think you might have SAD, it’s vital to see a therapist for a proper evaluation. It can be dangerous to try to engage in self-diagnosis and self-treatment.

Here are some signs for when to seek help:

  • Your functioning is significantly impaired. You have difficulty completing tasks that were easier before; you’re falling behind with bills and chores; you make mistakes more often or take longer to finish projects; you tend to withdraw from loved ones.
  • You feel considerably depressed. You feel sad more often than not; you feel guilty or hopeless about the future; you have negative thoughts about yourself that you don’t have at other times of the year.
  • Your physical functions are greatly disrupted. During the wintertime, you sleep more or have a hard time getting up in the morning; you’d rather stay in bed all day; your eating habits have changed.

Remember that SAD is highly treatable, and there’s always hope!

We have our fingers crossed for a mild rest of the winter and an early spring!

As always, don't hesitate to call us...we can help!


Christine Mowry
Executive Director
Over the past two years, 4 athletes have volunteered to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of SYFS and raised nearly $25,000 to support the important work of the agency. This year, we have volunteer runners, but are in need of bibs. If you have a connection to the Boston Marathon (or have a bib and are just now realizing what you signed up for) please contact us. These funds make a significant impact on our budget and our ability to provide our services to the community.
Thank you to all of friends, sponsors, partners, and supporters who attended our Annual Breakfast last month. It was our greatest honor to recognize Ellen Dolan, Director of the Shrewsbury Public Library, with the Harry S. Cutting, Jr. Award. This prestigious award honors those who embody the spirit of Harry S. Cutting Jr. through remarkable and selfless efforts to enhance the Shrewsbury community.
SYFS one of the first in the country to pilot new teen Mental Health First (tMHFA) Aid program

SYFS was thrilled to be chosen as a pilot site for the new Teen Mental Health First Aid Program, a collaboration between Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation and The National Council for Behavioral Health. This in-person training teaches high school students about common mental health and substance use challenges and what they can do to support their own mental health and help a friend who is struggling. It’s equipping young people with the knowledge and skills they need to foster their own wellness and to support each other. We'd like to extend our gratitude to our partners at Grafton High School who allowed us to embed this program into the health curriculum for the entire sophomore class. SYFS certified instructors delivered 40 sessions to students during January and February. We are excitedly awaiting the opportunity to share this program with other districts next year. Thank you to The Reliant Foundation for supporting us in this effort!
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