Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression that occurs during winter when temperatures drop and daylight hours lessen. Typically, people who suffer from SAD experience a recurrence of symptoms around the same time each year, with symptoms disappearing once warmer weather hits. SAD is diagnosed when you experience the following symptoms:
- Sadness, anxiety and hopelessness during the winter months
- Change in sleeping habits
- Loss of energy/motivation and feelings of sadness and fatigue that are mild at first but increase in severity
- Change in appetite
- Social withdrawal/loss of interest in social activities
While the exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown, environmental factors and genetics can play a role. If you have SAD, here are several ways you can help beat the disorder and return to a happier state of mind.
1. Soak Up the Sun
Even if you are indoors, sufferers of SAD should make a point to get as much light as they can. Move your desk near a window, open the blinds and make sure you are able to see and feel the sun regularly throughout the day. To really benefit, take short walks outside and sit in the sun for a few minutes. Once you’ve spent some time outdoors for a period of days, your mood should lighten.
2. Be Social
Those who suffer from SAD are prone to losing interest in friends and family members, but it’s important to attend social functions during the winter to help lessen your symptoms. Being surrounded by caring and supportive friends can help you out of your funk and make you feel happier.
All forms of exercise produce endorphins that instantly give you a mood boost. These endorphins will give you a feeling of euphoria while simultaneously reducing stress levels so symptoms of depression will lessen. Even a brisk 15 minute walk outdoors can give you these benefits and help you beat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
4. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
While the primary form of Vitamin D is the sun, most women do not get the recommended amount of this important vitamin. Plus, a woman’s ability to produce Vitamin D from sun exposure lessens with age. Taking a Vitamin D supplement, such as Caltrate 600+D Plus Chewables, will help you reach your intake goal and increase levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain. This will help those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder greatly.
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5. Try Light Therapy
On days where there doesn’t appear to be any sunlight at all, many SAD sufferers have benefited from light therapy. With light therapy, you buy a special box that mimics outdoor light to help improve your mood and your spirits.
While many people who suffer from SAD are not on medications, some sufferers have found relief with anti-depressants. If you believe you need medication to help your depression, speak with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.
Whether you have a mild or severe case of SAD, speaking with a therapist can be a great way to battle through your seasonal depression. Consider speaking with a counselor before your symptoms hit as a preventative measure. Otherwise, make sure to visit a therapist regularly while you are experiencing symptoms; he or she can help talk you through your feelings and help make it easier to deal with SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real problem, and can make even the easiest daily tasks seem like impossible challenges. If you suffer from SAD, the above tips can help you cope during the winter months so you can get back to a happier state of being.