Mental Health

Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Let me start by saying this:

You can overcome this. You are strong and you are capable of anything. I understand how it feels to battle any sort of mental health issue – how it makes you feel totally alone. But you are not alone. So many people battle this and you are not alone. With that said, I also want you to know that I am not a doctor of any kind. I am only sharing tips from research and tips that have helped me when I struggle with anxiety or depression of any kind.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons. Typically, it begins and ends during the same time period every year. Often, this time period starts in the fall and ends with the passing of winter. For this reason, this mood disorder is also called ‘winter depression’ or ‘winter blues.’ However, for others it begins in spring and continues into the early summer season, prompting others to call it the ‘summer depression.’ However, for the rest of the year, mental health reverts to normal.

What are the symptoms of the Seasonal Affective Disorder?

There is a variety of symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those suffering from winter depression may feel lethargic, like all the energy has left their body. As a result, they may be drowsy and tired all day. When they sleep, they will do so for prolonged periods of time. They may be moody and may derive little to no pleasure in normal everyday activities that they used to be interested in. In more severe cases of SAD, a person may suffer from persistent feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness. He/she may also crave foods high in carbohydrates, resulting in weight gain.

 

Those with summer depression also suffer from heightened anxiety and frequent agitation. They may lose their appetite for any type of food whatsoever, and as a result they may experience weight loss. They may develop insomnia and have trouble falling asleep. Coupled with the loss of appetite, this insomnia puts their bodies at a greater risk for other health complications.

What should you do if you’re experiencing these symptoms?

It’s normal for everyone to have days when they feel particularly under the weather. However, if those days continue into weeks and even months, the best recourse may be to see a doctor. Your doctor can consult a general psychologist and carry out an assessment of your mental health. Then, they may ask about your eating habits and sleeping patterns.

How can you deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

If you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, don’t panic! There is a wide range of treatments available to deal with SAD. The main treatment is light therapy or phototherapy, where a special lamp called a light box is utilized to simulate exposure to sunlight.

 

Other treatments include talking therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is commonly used in treating anxiety and depression. In this therapy, one is encouraged to change the way he thinks and behaves. Another talking therapy available is counseling, which is performed by a counselor trained to listen with empathy. And seeing a therapist or counselor is never anything to be shameful of! It helps so much, even to those who are not struggling with a mood disorder. It helps just to have an unbiased, listening ear.

 

One may also chose to take antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This is the go-to medication for depression, as it has fewer side effects compared to other antidepressants. I personally think you should try every other option first, but this is a personal decision.

 

If the above options seem unappealing, one may opt to change his/her lifestyle, by exercising regularly, going out daily to get natural sunlight, and managing stress levels. I can tell you that regular exercise and eating healthy is my mental health saver! I used to be on medication for years, but once I changed my lifestyle and stayed consistent with it, I can now cope better and no longer need medication.

 

You can do this friend, and you are never alone. Please never hesitate to reach out to me and I’ll be a friend to you. Hugs!

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