The signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - With a change in the weather, light and season, one's mood could also be changing.

"Seasonal Affective Disorder is a component of major depression, so people think it’s kind of a general type. It's actually part of depression," said Kathy Couch, a licensed clinical social worker and certified thanatologist with St. Luke's Behavioral Health.

The disorder comes from changes in the environment.

"The absence of light, it affects our brain chemicals. Most specifically serotonin, which is like the happy chemical in the brain, and then melatonin which a lot of people are familiar with that affects the sleep," Couch continued. "That’s why some of the depression happens when different changes in the environment occur."

Couch said that many might not realize depression can be connected with the weather.

"In the winter time you might notice some difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep, appetite, those symptoms that are more common with depression. With Seasonal Affective Disorder, you might notice things such as having heaviness in your arms or legs or a lot of things that you normally do in the winter like oversleeping, eating a lot of carbohydrates and relationship problems," she explained.

Couch said it's normal to feel down sometimes.

"But if they're happening in a chronic pattern, days at a time, then you would want to seek help and seek those services. And if you're unsure, just talk to a professional, talk to a doctor and see," she said.

Reaching out may be the best solution.

"Asking for help is a sign of strength and movement towards building that resilience, building those skills," Couch said.

Couch said there is not a time of year where suicides happen more than others.

"There's a myth that it does only happen in the winter, but it does happen in the spring as well," she explained.

She said increasing exercise and having positive relationships can make a person feel better.

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, contact the Idaho Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 208-398-4357.

Couch also recommends that if someone doesn't want to talk to a licensed professional at St. Luke's, they can also reach out for help at the local crisis center.

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