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December 10, 2018 5 min read

Feeling a little blue lately? It could be PMS or it could be something else. Like Seasonal Affect Disorder, otherwise known asSAD, which affects 10 million Americans annually. Meanwhile, 85 percent of women experiencepremenstrual syndrome (PMS). Combined, the two create a perfect storm, and just in time for the holiday season.

Why The Holidays Triggers Both Good & Bad

The holidays can be a double-edged sword. The good news is that it’s the holidays so no matter how busy, how much school work you just completed, how many more semesters of college you have left- you’ve got a break.

December can be the greatest time of the year and also annoyingly stressful. If you’re in college or freshly graduated, you’re likely wrapping up final assignments or getting adjusted to a new job. The upside to being a recent grad entering the workforce is that you have a job. You’re gaining experience and are now a part of the working professionals group. Maybe a part of you finally feels like a “grown up.” You actually have time off to visit with other busy girlfriends, that are dying to catch up over coffee or drinks. You actually have to make travel arrangements to see your parents, because you no longer live with them.

The holidays can be awesome and also overwhelming. It’s hard enough trying to survive as a college student, even being a recent grad can be eye-opening. You’re likely trying to figure out how and when you’re going to start paying back student loans, not to mention have enough money to buy gifts. This isn’t even including all the extra time spent Googling your butt-off trying to snag the cheapest airfare, so you can see the fam.

SAD Symptoms

Feeling SAD yet? It’s alright, seasonal affect disorder bugs a bunch of people, and in different ways. Lucky for you if you live in a state with all four seasons and not spoiled by year-round perfect SoCal weather. Hey, it’s rare but some folks experience seasonal depression during the summer, especially if heat is not your thing. But the majority of cases occur in the late fall and throughout winter. People who live in areas where it rains or snows heavily are most vulnerable.

10 Symptoms of Seasonal Affect Disorder:

  1. Increased Anxiety
  2. Depression
  3. Lack of Concentration
  4. Irritability & Mood Swings
  5. Diet & Weight Changes
  6. Joint & Muscle Pain
  7. Insomnia
  8. Fatigue
  9. Withdrawal from life
  10. Risky or Reckless Behavior

PMS Symptoms  

Like Seasonal Affect Disorder, or the “winter blues,” PMS gets poked at and the term gets thrown around a lot. Having PMS becomes a bit of a running joke. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-deprecating humor. We can all use a little laugh. But, let’s get real, crappy winter weather + PMS = worsening symptoms.

Seriously, some of us get a little lazy, we’d rather chill indoors where it’s nice and warm instead of head out into rain or snow. During the winter, the trend leans towards less active. When yucky weather combines with less daytime hours, hey, we’re more likely to ax that daily walk or run. PMS + cold weather = makes us crave the tastes-so-good bad stuff. Period cravings during the winter can get a whole lot worse. You might end up reaching for that pizza instead of a salad, and binge watch a Netflix TV show instead of hitting the gym especially if it’s snowing or gloomy outside.

10 Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome:

  1. Increased Anxiety
  2. Depression
  3. Lack of Concentration
  4. Irritability & Mood Swings
  5. Diet & Weight Changes
  6. Joint & Muscle Soreness
  7. Insomnia
  8. Gastrointestinal Issues
  9. Hot Flashes
  10. Acne

SAD + PMS Share Common Symptoms & Tips To Beat Both

As you can see, SAD and PMS share very common symptoms. In fact, seven out of the ten symptoms are identical. Because it’s like this, winter tends to make us veg, while the summer sunshine makes us want to move. If your period and the winter weather is making you super depressed, cranky, and other annoying symptoms listed above, try these drama-free tips.

5 Ways To Beat SAD + PMS

  1. Exercise: Get your butt moving! Staying fit helps circulation, increases feel-good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, plus reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Ladies, consistent exercise helps boost personal body image, confidence and keeps our BMI in check. Aerobic workouts also helps to tame that yucky bloated feeling.
  1. Healthy Foods: Carb PMS cravings and diet changes associated with Seasonal Affect Disorder by sticking to nutritious meals. Both PMS and SAD tend to amplify overeating or indulging on the wrong foods. And OMG, whatever you do don’t call it a diet, girl, think of it as a lifestyle change.
  1. Friends: Grab your girlfriends and get out of the house. Fight the urge to isolate and replace it with motivation. Get more social. If you’re BFF invites you to a holiday party and you find yourself wanting to say no, force yourself to attend. Re-watch that Jim Carrey movie, “Yes Man” for inspiration and be that “Yes Woman.” Say “yes” and go to that social activity you’ve been shortlisted on. PMS as well as SAD symptoms tend to lesson with regular activity. Plus, social interaction helps kick depression to the curb. So, whatever you do, don’t isolate. Isolation will only make you feel more “blah” and before you know it, the depression will come back worse. We don’t want that!
  1. Sleep: You need your beauty sleep! Depression tends to be linked to sleep disorders like insomnia. Dragging along with low energy and being tired all the time, makes it super hard to maintain exercise routines and is horrible on your  social life. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, you may need prescribed medication from a licensed healthcare professional, especially if over-the-counter stuff hasn’t worked.
  1. Get Medical Help: There is nothing wrong with you if you need to see a therapist and or psychiatrist. In fact, some of the most well-adjusted people regularly meet with mental health experts. PMS symptoms can sometimes worsen toPremenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD. PMDD occurs when PMS symptoms are amplified, big time. This can definitely occur during dreary winter months. Sometimes anti-depression medication is prescribed for serious PMDD and SAD cases. See a qualified physician and be honest about your symptoms so that they can help determine the right treatment for you.

SAD + PMS: There is Hope

While SAD and PMS have similar symptoms, their intersection during the winter time can magnify irritability, depression and feelings of inadequacy. You’ll know if you’re dealing with seasonal affect disorder if the symptoms persist beyond Aunt Flow. Before you start worrying about how you’re going to pay back student loans, what gifts to buy family and friends on a tight college grad budget, put yourself first.

Ladies, don’t forget to exercise, eat healthy, make time for friends, get your beauty sleep, and see your doctor if symptoms worsen. Remember, just like there shouldn’t be any menstrual shame, there also shouldn’t be shame in reaching out for help.




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