Win­ter Blues

Cop­ing with Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der

Raise Vegan - - Contents - by Emily Fowler @ emi­ly­fowler ly­fowler writes @ emi­lyfwriter mi­lyfwr

It’s nat­u­ral to feel more pos­i­tive and happy dur­ing the long, sunny days of sum­mer, and to feel tired with a lower mood in the win­ter. Many of us get what we’d call the “win­ter blues,” but Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der ( SAD) is more than just feel­ing a lit­tle down when it’s cold out­side. SAD is a rec­og­nized form of de­pres­sion that oc­curs dur­ing the win­ter months and of­ten has a sub­stan­tial im­pact on the lives of those it af­fects.

How do you know if you suf­fer from SAD?

There are a num­ber of in­di­ca­tions some­one has SAD, in­clud­ing: feel­ing sad, lonely, tear­ful, anx­ious, or ir­ri­ta­ble, prob­lems con­cen­trat­ing, sleep­ing, and main­tain­ing re­la­tion­ships, and a lack of in­ter­est in sex, to name a few. Suf­fer­ers may ex­hibit some or all of these symp­toms, but the com­mon thread is that the symp­toms ap­pear, or worsen, in the win­ter months.

Tips for deal­ing with SAD

First and fore­most, it is im­por­tant to seek pro­fes­sional help if de­pres­sion is get­ting in the way of one’s daily life. How­ever, there are some strate­gies and tech­niques to man­age SAD that can be help­ful. While the ex­act com­bi­na­tion of treat­ments and tech­niques will vary from per­son to per­son, here are a few ideas to try:

Light Ther­apy – Ex­po­sure to nat­u­ral light, while not a cure, can have an in­cred­i­ble im­pact on one’s men­tal health. Try­ing to get out­side as much as pos­si­ble dur­ing the day has proven to be ben­e­fi­cial. If it is not pos­si­ble to get out­side on a reg­u­lar ba­sis or you live in a cli­mate where it’s not al­ways sunny, us­ing light boxes – de­vices that con­tain strong flu­o­res­cent tubes that mimic sun­light – can be a good op­tion, too. The use of light boxes is ex­tremely com­mon among SAD suf­fer­ers as the re­sults are so pos­i­tive. Light boxes need to be used reg­u­larly, at least 30 min­utes a day, but it’s an easy ad­di­tion to one’s daily rou­tine.

Self- Care – Tak­ing a holis­tic ap­proach to one’s phys­i­cal and men­tal health has a whole heap of ben­e­fits. Things like eat­ing a healthy diet, get­ting reg­u­lar ex­er­cise and stay­ing so­cial - even when all you feel like do­ing is stay­ing at home un­der a blan­ket - all help to min­i­mize the symp­toms of SAD.

Talk­ing it Through – Ther­a­pies such as Cog­ni­tive Be­hav­ioral Ther­apy ( CBT), coun­sel­ing, or psy­chother­apy are all great for deal­ing with symp­toms of SAD and un­der­stand­ing one’s emo­tions. An­other op­tion is to join a sup­port group, as many peo­ple find it ben­e­fi­cial to share their ex­pe­ri­ences with fel­low suf­fer­ers. These groups can be found both on- and off- line. Dis­claimer: Please see a health­care pro­fes­sional for a proper di­ag­no­sis and to dis­cuss the best course of treat­ment for the in­di­vid­ual.

Photo: AlexMaster

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