When the seasons change, we experience different emotional imbalances, both positive and negative. The turn from winter to spring can bring on a classic case of “spring fever,” where we might feel excitable now that the sun is shining more and colorful flowers are peaking through the once frozen ground.
However, just as we may experience spring fever, we can also experience seasonal depression in the colder months. Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), some people might find themselves battling with feelings of depression due to the chillier environment and shorter days.
Dealing with Seasonal Depression
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can include anxiety, lethargy, depression, social withdrawal, oversleeping, and changes in appetite. While it might be easy to confuse these symptoms with being in a funk, it is important to recognize a disorder such as SAD in order to combat the side effects to achieve positive mental health.
Some ways to combat depression during the winter months include the following:
- Get enough sunlight. One of the main causes of SAD is that during the winter months, you don’t get as much sunlight as you normally do during different times of the year. Therefore, it is recommended you do things such as keep your blinds open, trim any foliage that is creating shade in your yard, or rearrange sitting areas in your home to be within the path of incoming sunlight. Taking walks during the mid-morning or early afternoon can also help you soak up some vitamin D, which will help improve your mood.
- Use a light box. If you can’t relocate to another part of the country where winter is almost obsolete, using light box therapy can be beneficial. When engaged in light box therapy, you will sit near a light box that emits light similar to that of natural, outdoor light. This therapy is said to increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction, thus decreasing symptoms of SAD.
- Take supplements. Part of the reason that you might feel depressed during colder months comes from the lack of vitamin D that you normally receive from continual sunlight. So, while taking walks is beneficial, sometimes you might need more assistance. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help keep your overall chemistry balanced.
- Proper diet. It can be easy to either turn to food for comfort if you are experiencing depression, or avoid food entirely. Both forms of coping are not healthy, as it is important that you have a balanced diet to keep from triggering your symptoms. You can do this by only keeping healthy food in your home and limiting that amount of times you go out to eat during the month. Avoiding alcohol or foods high in sugar can also help keep you feeling well rested and healthy.
By exercising, letting the sunshine into your home, eating well, and taking additional supplements, you can begin to combat any depression experienced by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you are finding that these solutions are not helping as much as you hoped, it is important that you talk with your doctor to determine if additional forms of depression treatment, such as therapy and medication, can help your Seasonal Affective Disorder.