Are you feeling SAD as summer comes to an end?
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Many people go through short periods of time where they feel sad or not like their usual selves. Sometimes, these mood changes can occur when the seasons change. People may start to feel “down” when the days get shorter in the fall and winter, hence the name “winter blues.” In some cases, these mood changes are more serious and can affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities. If you have noticed significant changes in your mood and behavior as the seasons start to change, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression.
What are common signs and symptoms of SAD?
- Feeling depressed most of the day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
- Having problems with sleep
- Having low energy or feeling sluggish
- Having trouble concentration
How can SAD be treated?
SAD can be effectivity treated in a few ways, including light therapy, antidepressant medication, talk therapy or some combination of these. While symptoms will generally improve on their own with the change in season, symptoms can improve more quickly with treatment.
Is SAD preventable?
Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes you can take to help prevent this disorder during the fall and winter months.
5 areas of well-being to focus on to prevent the winter blues.
- Physical: maintaining a consistent level of exercise and healthy balanced diet are proven ways to elevate your mood and energy levels. It is also important to regulate your sleep patterns by avoiding sleeping during the day and limiting excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
- Emotional: Keep a gratitude journal. It is easy to get sucked into all the parts of the day that aren’t perfect. Instead, make a point to reflect on the things that you are grateful for. Smile! It is proven a smile can instantly improve your mood as well as the mood of others.
- Social: Many people begin to feel isolated as the temperatures change. Make an effort to gather in community. Human beings are inherently social and cannot live alone or in isolation. Life is too short to live it alone.
- Environmental: Get outside! Even if it’s only for a few minutes, the fresh air and sunshine can help you feel refreshed. There are also light bulbs that emit a certain wavelength that can mimic vitamin D in sunlight that can be used periodically if needed.
- Spiritual: This has to do with your soul. Take a few moments each day to do something that relaxes you, like reading a book, taking a bath, meditating, etc. Be mindful of the moment, and instead of focusing on the negative aspects of winter embrace the season and look for the positives.
When to see a doctor
Its normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your health care provider. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.