We often feel less energized during the colder seasons. Yet, undergoing a period of depression throughout these months is concerning and needs to be addressed. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can take a severe emotional and physical toll. Discover what seasonal depression looks like, ways to make the best of winter, and treatment options for seasonal depression.
What Is Seasonal Depression?
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that means more than just feeling lousy when it’s gloomy outside. Those experiencing SAD will encounter the same symptoms as those with major depressive disorder. Wintertime in the northern hemisphere can cause some people to experience seasonal depression, much like a depressive episode. In the spring or summer, symptoms will typically disappear as the days lengthen.
This shift in mood can occasionally be more severe and impact how someone feels, thinks, and goes about their everyday life. Winter-pattern SAD or winter depression is the term used to describe the symptoms that often begin in the late fall or early winter and disappear over the spring and summer.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
Approximately five percent of Americans develop seasonal affective disorder each year, with symptoms lasting 40% of the year. Yet, this number may be more significant as many individuals unknowingly have seasonal depression and never seek treatment. While feeling frequently low and depressed is the primary signifier of seasonal depression, there are more symptoms to be aware of, which include:
- A lack of interest in past hobbies or activities
- Social withdrawal
- Sleeping too much, also known as hypersomnia
- Weight gain, with an increase in appetite or craving for carbohydrates
- Feeling exhausted or irritable
- Lacking energy
- Experiencing feelings of anguish or worthlessness
- Trouble with concentration
- Experiencing repeated thoughts of death or suicide
While anyone can experience seasonal depression, SAD is more often seen in women, those ages eighteen to thirty years old, and individuals residing farther north where the days are significantly shorter. Those with major depressive or bipolar disorder have a higher risk of seasonal depression. Individuals with SAD also often experience other mental health conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders.
Preparing for Winter With SAD
Depending on the severity of a person’s case, there are some practical tips to employ for a more enjoyable winter season. Of course, you should always speak with a medical professional about your health concerns, as they can provide you with the best treatment solutions. However, here are some helpful recommendations for you to better prepare for the cold seasons and alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Light therapy: Phototherapy boxes emit light that mimics sunlight and can help you overcome those cloud-filled winter days. Sitting in front of the lightbox for twenty to thirty minutes daily can lift your mood.
- Dawn simulators: These alarm clocks gently wake you up without loud noises but with gentle full-spectrum light that can replicate a natural sunrise.
- Stay social: It’s crucial to avoid the need for “hibernation” and stay connected with family and friends. You should be sure to speak with loved ones at least once a day, preferably in person.
- Wake up earlier: A surefire way to catch some daylight is by waking up earlier and going for a walk. Even if it’s cloudy, simply feeling the fresh air on your face can be enough to change your mindset.
- Take vitamin D: Seasonal depression has been linked to vitamin D deficiency, so take these supplements to ensure you’re receiving the nutrients you need throughout the winter.
- Eating healthy: Foods rich in vitamins and minerals can help you feel your best, even during those long dark winter months.
Treatment for Seasonal Depression
At Avalon Malibu, we provide treatment for depression in our Grand House, which was built as a scenic haven to foster wellness and recovery. Our holistic treatment facility is situated in California, perched on a hill with a view of a private beach on the Pacific Ocean. This offers a tranquil, healing environment that is perfect for healing.
Our trained therapists can help create a treatment plan for you and your struggle with seasonal depression. This can include individual or group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), art therapy, and more. Our mental health professionals will do an in-depth assessment to ensure that you’re experiencing SAD and not another form of depression.
Avalon Malibu staff can also help you learn healthy coping mechanisms for seasonal depression, such as increasing your energy and planning a positive winter routine. Additionally, CBT can allow you to identify the negative thoughts and behaviors that may make you feel worse. Integrating healthy habits, such as increasing your physical activity and optimizing your sleep, into your daily routine will be a priority for you and your therapist to ensure you can enjoy winter.
As the winter months continue, you or your loved one may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you or a loved one is experiencing seasonal depression. Avalon Malibu offers excellent depression care that can cause long-lasting, constructive healing. For the purpose of promoting a revitalized feeling of mental and physical recovery, our holistic approach covers the complete range of each client’s unique needs. From cognitive behavioral therapy to physical activity, Avalon Malibu has the treatment you or your loved one needs to overcome depression. Call (844) 857-5992 now to get more information about our healing mental health treatment facility in Malibu, California.