Right now, the United States is facing a brutal cold spell that even has the Postal Service suspending deliveries in some areas. It is time for some with Seasonal Affective Disorder to experience what is called the Winter Blues.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According the Mayo.com, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” The depression will begin and end at the same time each year.
Seasonal Affective Disorder typically occurs during the fall and winter when the daylight hours are shorter. But it can also reveal itself occur the spring and summer months in rare cases.
What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According the the National Institute of Mental Health, “To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least 2 years.”
Symptoms of Major Depression
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleep
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder – Winter
- Having low energy
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder – Summer
- Poor appetite with associated weight loss
- Episodes of violent behavior
Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Treatments vary between using light therapy, medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Vitamin D to Cognitive behavioral therapy.
It should be noted that regular exercise, yoga and acupuncture have been known to help with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder as well.
Ways to Ease the Symptoms
Focusing on your senses can help a great deal with helping you feel better. Put on some nice music and light a candle that smells good. While you are at it, take a nice bubble bath. There are also other ways that can help, here list of some other areas you can focus on.
According to Marya at Chronic Mom Life, “Little touches around your home can make a big difference. In fact, something as simple as a cheerful photo or a splash of color can change your perspective.”
Putting up new pictures in the winter that show flowers, the ocean or other landscapes can brighten a room and make it cheery. Don’t downplay this simple step because sometimes changing your environment, even slightly, can give a fresh perspective.
Eating healthy can just make your body feel better. Filling your body with foods that meet your nutritional needs, will help to give you more energy. Here are a couple things to focus on:
- Avoid eating an abundance of simple carbohydrates. They make your serotonin and sugar levels spike and then fall. This can make your mood swings greater.
- Eat foods rich in Tyrosine and Tryptophan. These are amino acids that help with the production of the natural mood stabilizers serotonin and dopamine. Example of these are poultry, eggs, almonds, shrimp, spinach, salmon, asparagus, avocados and bananas.
Because inclement winter weather may not make it pleasant to go outside, being stuck indoors is one of the contributing factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If freezing temperatures keep you from spending time outside, try to go out in 15 minute increments. Just the act of going outside will improve your mood.
Exercise is also very important to feeling good. Taking a simple 15 minute walk can make you feel so good. Not only is being outdoors helpful but adding the exercise will get your blood pumping and the endorphins flowing!
One of the most important ways to help yourself if you are having trouble with Seasonal Affective Disorder is to remember that it is temporary. The Seasons change and once this season comes to an end a brighter season will begin.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is definitely more serious than just a simple case of the winter blues. There is no shame in asking for help if you are really struggling; and you absolutely should!
Taking some simple actions may help ease the symptoms until the seasons change and things look up again.
- My Mental Health Story
- 5 Thoughts that Impact your Mental Health
- The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others