An estimated 5% of Americans are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), a type of depression linked to the change of season. If your mood worsens during fall or winter and you feel listless and lethargic, you might have S.A.D. Believed to be related to the lack of light and sunshine, S.A.D is a real disorder requiring a diagnosis from a medical professional. The good news is that there are multitude of solutions to help combat the effects of S.A.D.
Consult a Therapist
Before diagnosing yourself with S.A.D., analyze your symptoms and then consult a therapist. Dr. Judi Bloom can treat and help you overcome an array of depressive disorders.
Common symptoms of S.A.D include:
- Feeling down. S.A.D leaves you feeling hopeless for weeks on end and tends to escalate later in the winter season.
- Fluctuating moods. People with S.A.D tend to experience a depressive mood around the same time every year.
- It’s natural for people to be more reclusive during the winter months, but if you find yourself avoiding all social events, you might need help.
- Fatigue. Feeling completely fatigued, listless, lethargic, and disinterested in activities is something that needs to be addressed.
- Pandemic anxiety. The pandemic has forced people to remain at home more, which may have worsened symptoms or created S.A.D. in people who’ve never experienced these kinds of disorders.
Common Treatment Options
Depending on the severity of symptoms, some people can manage S.A.D by preparing ahead for the season and being mindful of their moods. Others might need additional treatment options, which can include antidepressants, phototherapy (use of UV light for 20 minutes per day), regular psychotherapy, and exposure to sunlight.
Regardless of how badly you experience S.A.D, it’s important to prepare for the season ahead. It’s believed that S.A.D. is a biochemical imbalance exacerbated by the lack of daylight hours and warm weather.
You can prepare for the season ahead by using bright lights in the home, ensuring there’s enough light by keeping windows open during winter, adding plants for a natural look, and making rooms brighter using halogen and task lighting.
Make sure to spend as much time as you can in outdoor spaces during daylight hours. Plan your day so that you can go for a walk outside when there are fragments of light.
Try to engage in activities that reduce your feelings of depression. If you’re spending too much time at home, you can take a “staycation” by engaging in outdoor activities, going to a spa or local hotel if that’s an option for you, and practicing yoga (lots of videos online), mindfulness and meditation.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware. Studies suggest mindfulness may reduce symptoms of depression, so be mindful of your thoughts, moods, and beliefs. Try meditation and other mindfulness practices, such as mindful walking and eating, to reduce stress levels. Dr. Judi Bloom can teach you these techniques, including a 10 minute meditation you can easily practice daily.
Coping With S.A.D
When you’ve been diagnosed with S.A.D., you’ll find a wealth of information and coping solutions at your fingertips. If you suffer from other mental health disorders, it’s important to remember that they could compound your S.A.D.