Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Fall is upon us, folks, and you know what that means! Soon, people will be carving pumpkins, picking apples, going on hay rides, and… experiencing seasonal affective disorder. That’s right, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, most often begins in the fall and carries over through the winter months. SAD is a type of depression that does not last year-round as it is associated with the bitter cold and lack of sunlight during those times of the year. Does this sound familiar? If you find yourself having low energy, feeling depressed or agitated, gaining or losing weight, and/or having problems sleeping, but it only seems to happen during this time of year, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder. But, fear not! There are plenty of things you can do to improve or maintain your mood in these upcoming months.

Your body’s natural way to prime you for bed time is to produce melatonin once it gets dark outside. That sounds great, but what about during the winter months when the days are shorter? Well, your body doesn’t know the difference, so it keeps producing that melatonin. On the flip side, while your body is producing too much melatonin it’s also not getting enough vitamin D. So, kick that double whammy and soak up some rays! You could go for a walk, weather permitting, or sit in a bright window to keep melatonin at bay and get some vitamin D. If that doesn’t cut it, you could invest in a light box that mimics the sun to brighten up your mood.

Another great way to kick SAD to the curb is through exercise. Walking is a great way to help alleviate symptoms, as it can be done outside in the sunshine. However, if the weather does not allow for that, you could always walk on a treadmill by a sunny window for a similar effect. Exercising will also help prevent weight gain that tends to occur while experiencing SAD.

Of course, you can always seek professional help as well. Whether you’re experiencing one, some, or all of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, counseling is an exceptional way to alleviate or manage your discomfort. Counselors will be able to help you grasp a deeper understanding of what you’re feeling and how to help. If you are not the one personally experiencing these symptoms, but you suspect someone close to you might be, make sure to share these tips with them.

During this time of year, comfort food is everywhere. It can be very difficult for even those not experiencing SAD to put down that pumpkin pie or glass of eggnog. However, making healthy eating choices is crucial to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Make sure to stock up on foods high in vitamin D, and even vitamin D supplements, during this season to make sure you get enough sans the sun. Listed below is a delicious recipe for cheese and pumpkin-filled manicotti that has about 30 IU vitamin D per serving.

You will need:

1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells

15 ounces ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup canned pumpkin

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large egg yolks

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

24 ounces garlic pasta sauce, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions for al dente. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, pumpkin, Parmesan cheese, egg yolks, and nutmeg then spoon it into the manicotti shells.
  3. Spread 1 cup of pasta sauce into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Place the stuffed manicotti on top. Pour the rest of your pasta sauce over the top, then sprinkle the rest of your mozzarella cheese on top.
  4. Bake, covered, 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Information about seasonal affective disorder was gathered from:

The delicious cheese and pumpkin-filled manicotti recipe was found at:


Written By: Emma at Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.

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