10 Ways to Combat Seasonal Depression
Does your mood plunge when after we all turn our clocks back and it starts to get dark earlier? While missing the fun of summer is one thing, a more sustained and significant downturn in your mood could be a sign of trouble. If you feel sad, disengaged, and fatigued during the coldest months of the year, there could be a real mental health disorder to blame.
What is Seasonal Depression?
Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Seasonal Depression is a type of major depressive disorder in which a person experiences depression during certain seasons but not others. In most cases, people feel depressed during the coldest months of the year and start feeling better when spring arrives.
However, some people experience SAD in different seasons. Some research suggests that SAD which occurs in winter is caused by a change in the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
In the general population, as much as three percent of people live with seasonal depression. However, people with other mood disorders are much more likely to experience SAD. Up to 20 percent of people who live with major depressive disorder experience SAD, and the number is as high as 25 percent for people with bipolar disorder.
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How to Combat Seasonal Depression
Even if you live with SAD, you don’t need to resign yourself to an awful winter. These strategies can help you combat the effects of seasonal depression:
1. Light Therapy
Dawn simulators and light therapy boxes can offer relief by giving users the benefits of sunshine, even when it’s dark outside.
2. Be Social
Combat another potential cause of SAD by socializing with friends and loved ones. Anything that gets you outside of your own self-awareness can help.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise can be an important part of any mental health care plan. Just be sure to ask your doctor before starting something new.
4. Tackle Holiday Stress
Stress around the holidays can make this time of year harder. Address holiday stress head-on with proven coping strategies.
5. Focus on Sleep Hygiene
Does your sleep schedule go haywire in the colder months? If so, be intentional about having a peaceful sleeping space and going to bed at the same time each night.
6. Talk to Your Doctor
Low levels of vitamin D can be a factor in SAD. Talk to your doctor to determine if you get enough vitamin D and discover how to supplement if not.
7. Talk to a Psychiatrist
It may be in your best interest to take antidepressants during the winter, but only a licensed expert can help you decide.
8. Consider Therapy
A licensed therapist can help you find personalized coping tools, process difficult emotions, and more.
9. Don’t Avoid Emotions
Feelings want to be felt. Rather than bottling up your emotions, find healthy ways of expressing those feelings.
10. Build a Support Network
Your support system can include family, friends, other people with SAD, doctors, and more.