20 Things People Who Have Seasonal Depression Want Others to Know

For those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — also known as “seasonal depression” — the holidays aren’t always the “happiest time of the year.” In fact, for the half a million people with this mood disorder in the United States, symptoms including depression, sleep problems and mood changes peak in December, January and February.

Depression is hard enough, but experiencing depression when we’re supposed to be filled with “cheer” can be extra challenging. So, we asked members of our Mighty community who experience seasonal depression what they wish others understood.

Here’s what they had to say: 

1.It’s not a switch you turn on and off. It just happens.” — Susan Baird


2. “This too shall pass. Have patience with me.” — Melody Jeffcoat

3.It can occur during the summertime, too. And saying ‘How could you not love summer? Everyone loves sunshine,’ doesn’t help. It just makes me feel more alienated and alone during that time of year.” — Charlotte Fuchs

4. “This is real. I’m not using it as an excuse.” — Vickie Owens Webb

5. “I can’t just be happy because it’s a happy time of the year.” — Shelley Mouber


6.You can’t wish away how I feel. You can’t ‘reason’ my feelings into submission. But you can be there for me.” — Nnedi Stephens

7. “I can’t just wish away my depression. It doesn’t help when you say, ‘But the holidays are so fun!’ — Beth Buchanan

8. “I’m OK missing out on the things you think are important. I’m OK alone.” — Tina Grome


9. “For me, sunlight is the fuel that gets me moving when I’m down. When it’s gone, I’ve lost that coping strategy. The next best things sometimes aren’t enough.” — Ella Olive

10. “You can’t fix me, and I’m not faking it. Just try to be compassionate and tell me you care. Because I forget — I forget I’m not a waste of space, that I matter and that anyone can see me at all. Whatever you do, don’t abandon me during this time.” — Jessica A. Leuthner-Johnson

11. “I wish I wasn’t ignoring you and avoiding your calls. I just can’t find the strength to pick up the phone.” — Shari DeCarlo

12. “Sometimes I just need quiet time alone.” — Denver Davis


13. “I don’t ‘choose’ to ruin the holidays for everyone else because I can’t force myself to be happy. I wish I could be happy — my family deserves a happy holiday.”  — Jessica Love

14. “It’s not something you can ‘snap out of.'” — Christy Hodge

15. “It varies from person to person and it’s definitely not a choice! Please be patient with us.” — Bekr Usque Ad Finem

16. “It doesn’t help when you say, ‘But it’s still sunny.'” — Carina Roberts


17. “I cannot just go tanning to make it go away.” — Alison Taylor

18. “Please don’t be offended when I don’t want to hang out or come to holiday gatherings. Please don’t think you’ve done something when I don’t answer your phone calls. I need some time. I need to breathe. It’s not my fault and I can’t ‘just deal with it.’ It’s real, it’s painful and it consumes me. Every. Single. Day. Yes, I function. Yes, I work. Yes, I take care of my house and kids. No, it’s not easy, but I do it. Please understand I can’t be fixed and I don’t expect you to try to fix me. I do, however, ask you to understand, to be there when I need you and to accept me as I am.” — Christy Hummel McMillen

19. “Just because I’m like this doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful or unappreciative.” — Lucynda Slattery

20. “Give us time.” — Kay Russow

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*Some answers have been edited and shortened.

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