Seasonal Affective Disorder
Why so SAD?
Ever find yourself feeling kind of sluggish and more irritable once the cooler weather and shorter, darker days of winter set in? Perhaps you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (kind of an appropriate acronym, right?). SAD is a type of depression that’s related to the change in seasons.
SAD symptoms usually begin in the fall and continue throughout the long winter months. Symptoms include anxiety, problems sleeping and lethargy, feeling anti-social and overeating. According to MayoClinic.com, “It’s 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 doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.”
How to deal
While SAD can be a downer, there is hope. Here are 5 ways you can cope:
- Lighten up – If a lack of sunlight is the problem, it makes sense that more light could be a solution. Research has shown light therapy is effective at combatting seasonal depression. You can buy a light box for your home or office that provides the kind of bright rays that elevate your brain’s serotonin levels.
- Get outside – Spending just 30 minutes a day outside can help combat SAD. Buddle up, grab a friend or 2 and go for a brisk walk. Read more at Today.com
- Exercise – If you don’t want to endure a walk in the cold, hitting the gym is a good substitute – even better if you can grab a machine near the window. As with depression, exercise is key in elevating your spirit. Bonus, this helps fight the holiday bulge we all struggle with each year.
- Stick to a schedule – People who suffer from SAD often have a hard time sleeping. Maintaining a consistent schedule of when you go to bed and wake up can help. Read more at EverydayHealth.com
- Take a vacation – If possible, head somewhere warm and sunny. Getting out of the cold and into some warm sunshine can help fight SAD. Read more at TheOlympian.com
Regardless of how you choose to cope with SAD, it’s important to remember you are not alone – millions of people suffer from the effects of SAD each year. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help. If you’re having a hard time coping, contact your doctor.