Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
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.