Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during the changing of seasons, most commonly in late fall and early winter. According to WebMD, roughly 11 million Americans suffer from SAD each year, while an additional 25 million suffer from a milder form. While the symptoms of SAD tend to improve as the summer months approach, there are a number of steps a person can take to counter the effects of SAD. Here are 5 ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder Tip #1: GET OUTSIDE
While the days are significantly shorter during the winter months, it is important to get outside and take in as much sunlight as you can. When inside, it is recommended you let in as much natural light as possible. Exposure to sunlight is believed to increase levels of serotonin in the bran, which helps to combat the symptoms of depression brought on by the short days of winter. For more information on how sunlight can positively impact your mental health, please visit Healthline’s article today.
Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder Tip #2: EXERCISE
Weight gain is a common symptom of SAD, due to inactivity of people during the winter months. Exercising outdoors can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with SAD. However, if you live in an area that is too cold, joining a gym or yoga studio is a great alternative. If possible, position yourself near a window with plenty of sunlight when at the gym. For a list of suggested treatment options, please visit Psych Central’s webpage.
Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder Tip #3: SET A SCHEDULE
Disruption of sleep is another common symptom associated with SAD. People living with SAD often report difficulty staying asleep at night (Insomnia) or oversleeping. Sticking to a strict sleep/wake schedule will expose you to light at consistent times, which will ultimately help your body recognize when it is time for sleep. For a list of practices that promote good “sleep hygiene,” please visit the National Sleep Foundation’s webpage.
Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder Tip #4: VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is naturally produced when we are exposed to sunlight. Since there is limited sunlight throughout winter, it is no surprise that Vitamin D deficiency is more common during this time. Over the counter supplements can help to combat this deficiency. However, it is important to speak with your doctor to discuss whether or not Vitamin D supplements are a good choice for you. For more information about the connection between Vitamin D and depression, please visit Vitamin D Council’s article today.
Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder Tip #5: TALK TO SOMEONE
Studies suggest that talk therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, may be an effective treatment option for SAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common psychosocial intervention practice used to treat mental illness. In a study conducted by Kelly Rohan of the University of Vermont, results showed that recurrence of depression symptoms were significantly less in those who underwent therapy as opposed to those who used light therapy. For more information regarding Rohan’s study, please visit WebMD’s article today.
If none of these remedies help offset the symptoms of SAD, you may want to speak with a primary care physician. Your doctor will review your symptoms to determine whether you are suffering from SAD or some other form of depression. For more basic information about SAD, please visit Mayo Clinic’s webpage.