INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern, previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is soon to be at its peak as the winter months approach and the days get shorter.

Seasonal Pattern Depression is most likely to begin in the darker, colder months. The lack of light the human body receives is the main reason why it exists in the first place.

“If you go way back, light means, ‘it’s time to be up and active,'” explained Kimble Richardson, a mental health counselor. “As long as there have been human beings on the earth, we have gone by cues to tell us what to do, and for us, that is sunlight.”

Richardson explained for those who live in states where there tends to be more sunlight, such as Florida, Seasonal Pattern Depression is less likely to occur. It is more likely to occur in northern states that get less light in the winter.

Some signs of Seasonal Pattern Depression include but are not limited to:

  • Hypersomnia (oversleeping)
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Lack of interest in usual activities and decreased socialization

The Mayo Clinic estimates there are more than 3 million cases in the U.S. every year.

Seasonal Pattern Depression is characterized by “recurrent episodes,” said Richardson. “It’s not someone who has had a series of difficult stressful situations and therefore put [them] into a depressive episode. This is a specific pattern of having depressive symptoms.”

Although Seasonal Pattern Depression is most likely to begin in November/December, Richardson said it could occur in the spring and summer times as well. If you begin to see signs and symptoms, seek professional help right away, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts.

“Anytime anybody has a change in their ability to cope, difficulty with working, difficulty functioning in your personal life, get it checked out. That typically means speaking with your family doctor, speaking with a mental health professional, your spiritual advisor, or your friends and family,” Richardson said.