It’s no surprise that many of us feel lonely and withdrawn during dark and cold winter months. Conveniently named SAD, seasonal affective disorder is the official name for the depression we experience during the fall/winter months. If you’re dealing with SAD or know someone else who is, settle in. We’ve got some tips to help you manage it this season.
What is SAD?
SAD, short for seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression many people experience as the seasons change, specifically during the fall and winter months. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder usually appear during late fall/early winter for most people and go away during the spring/summer months.
Some of the most common symptoms of SAD include:
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
- Losing interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
- Appetite changes
- Tiredness or low energy
Using light therapy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is one of the more common methods of treatment. Also known as phototherapy, involves you sitting in front of a bright light for 20-90 minutes a day, depending on how severe your depression is. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, light therapy has been shown to be extremely helpful in treating those afflicted with SAD.
Some things to consider when engaging in light therapy:
- Your light box must generate at least 10,000 lux, which is about 100 times stronger than a normal lightbulb.
- Your light box must generate white or blue light, but not yellow light.
- Place the light at least 2 feet away from you.
- Try to engage in light therapy as early in the morning as you possibly can.
- No light box? Head outside for even 15 minutes to get the powerful benefits of the sun.
Eat Healthy, Nourishing Foods
According to a study published in Comprehensive Psychology, many people dealing with SAD tend to eat more foods rich in carbohydrates, especially sweets and starchy foods. A lot of people also tend to overeat, which is why it’s important to provide your body with the rich, healthy, nourishing foods that it needs to keep both your brain and your body healthy!
During the fall and winter months, it’s important to stay on top of your vitamin D intake, as we are getting less and less sunlight.
Some foods that are rich in vitamin D are:
- Wild mushrooms
Staying active all year round is definitely important, but especially so when you’re trying to figure out how to deal with seasonal depression. One of the main symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is fatigue/lethargy, so maintaining an active lifestyle is a great way to combat this specific symptom of SAD.
According to Benny Peiser from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moore University in the United Kingdom, “taking part in regular physical exercise during the autumn and winter months can help to maintain an appropriate circadian rhythm, thereby keeping SAD symptoms at bay.” Staying active can help give you that boost of energy your body and mind needs to help combat SAD.
About Peek Counseling | Teen, Youth, Adolescent and Young Adult Counselor in Denver, CO
Katie Bisbee-Peek is a teen counselor in the Denver area, specializing in working with adolescents, young adults and fellow counselors. Therapy helps mental wellness and disposition, helping us see the lighter side of life. Katie brings humor into her practice to further highlight that point. Needing some laughter and a listening ear? Reach out today.