Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that commonly begins in the autumn and lasts throughout the winter. This condition is also referred to as SAD because it makes an individual feel mentally depressed and physically unenergetic for several months.
The condition of SAD primarily occurs in geographic regions where there is less daily sunlight as winter approaches. SAD is diagnosed in children, teenagers and adults of both genders, leading to more than 3 million cases of the condition each year in the United States.
Ways to Deal with SAD
Way 1: Increase Natural Lighting in Your Home or Office
Additional exposure to natural light throughout the day is essential for overcoming the symptoms from this depressive disorder. If you can open the draperies or window blinds during the day, then it can help alleviate your lethargy. Try to sit near a window with the sunlight flowing into your eyes for the most benefits. When you own a home, adding window or skylights is also recommended.
Way 2: Keep a Regular Sleeping Schedule
Maintaining a regular sleeping schedule each night is vital for overcoming SAD symptoms. This can seem difficult when it is darker in the morning when you wake up and when it gets darker sooner in the evening. In addition, the time changes associated with daylight saving time can also increase your feelings of depression. However, keeping the same sleeping pattern will regulate your brain’s circadian rhythms.
Way 3: Eat a Healthy Diet
The cold temperatures of autumn may lead to cravings for comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese or tasty baked goods, but this high carbohydrate diet can make you feel more lethargic. Continue to consume a nutritious diet of vegetables and fruits along with lean proteins so that you won’t gain weight while you are feeling depressed in the winter from SAD.
Way 4: Prescription Medications for Depression
If you are overwhelmed with depressive feelings, then you should visit a psychologist for a prescription for antidepressant medications. Taking medications is helpful, but you should also use other methods for overcoming your seasonal affective disorder because antidepressants are a short-term solution.
Way 5: Daily Physical Activity
Experts recommend daily physical activity to help reduce SAD symptoms. If you can exercise outside, then there are additional benefits from exposure to the sunlight. You don’t need to go outside for several hours to notice a change in your mood because 15 to 30 minutes is helpful. When you can’t exercise outside, make sure to exercise inside instead.
Way 6: Frequent Socialization
In some cases, you may stay at home more during the winter, especially if you have young children to care for or if you are a retiree. However, experts recommend socializing as a way to combat the depressive feelings from SAD. Find a way to get out of your house several times a week to spend time connecting with other people. Sometimes a little one-on-one time can go a long way.
Way 7: Light Boxes
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of sunlight in the winter, then you may consider buying a specialized light box that emits bright lighting similar to sunlight. You can use one of these light boxes at home or in an office, and experts recommend exposure to the bright lighting as much as possible during the day. Make sure to turn off the light box in the late afternoon or evening to help with the regulation of your brain’s circadian rhythms.
Way 8: St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is an herbal shrub that has blooms that many individuals believe to be beneficial for overcoming depression. You can find capsules that contain the processed form of this herb, and by taking it according to the directions you may have some relief from the physical and mental problems associated with SAD.
Way 9: Professional Therapy
If you are struggling with SAD, consider a visit to a licensed therapist for talk or cognitive behavioral therapy to help you overcome the feelings associated with seasonal depression. A therapist can also determine if there are other underlying issues that are leading to mental depression and physical lethargy.
Way 10: Vitamin D Supplements
Taking a vitamin D supplement is recommended for people suffering from SAD. Your body creates vitamin D after exposure to sunlight, but many people are deficient in this nutrient, especially during the winter. You can find multivitamins that contain vitamin D, or you can take a vitamin D supplement instead.
Winter can be long, and if you deal with SAD, it can feel endless. There are many ways to help combat the suppressive symptoms of this disorder, so please don’t hesitate to give yourself the help you need, as you need it.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-343-3248 for a consultation.