It is that time of year again, Holiday Season. Although the holidays can be filled with love and joy for some, that is not the case for others. Some people suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a form of depression that comes in a seasonal pattern. The main feature of this disorder is that the depressive symptoms occur at a particular time of year. Most often, the depression starts during the winter months, when it gets dark earlier resulting in less sunlight and temperatures are colder, keeping people inside more often. In order to be diagnosed, the onset and remission of the depression must occur seasonally, and depressive episodes during that season have to outnumber nonseasonal episodes.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Feeling anxious, sluggish, or depressed
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Excessive sleeping
- Craving carbohydrates
Here are 6 tips to overcoming SAD.
- Light Therapy: People tend to get more depressed in the winter due to the absence of light. Therefore, light therapy has proven to be effective. Take a walk whenever the sun is out. Open blinds/curtains to let natural light in or purchase specialized lighting for your home.
- Vitamin D: Increase your vitamin D intake. You can get vitamin D from the foods you consume, but its often time not enough. You can purchase vitamin D over the counter or have your PCP prescribe some.
- Healthy Diet: Eating well is an important aspect of maintaining mental and physical health. Try choosing healthier options at least for 1 meal each day.
- Aerobic Exercise: When you are feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is work out. However, engaging in physical activity, especially in the day light or under bright lights, has been known to have a positive impact on your mood.
- Medication: Depending on the severity of symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. It is important to follow your doctor’s orders and take your medication as prescribed.
- Counseling: Sometimes it can be helpful to speak with a mental health professional to help you overcome these darker days. Therapy can help you recognize your triggers and apply some coping strategies to combat depression and anxiety during this time.
- Don’t let the winter season keep you down. Utilize these tips to help you get through the season and don’t be afraid to reach out for help by talking to someone.