Surviving Seasonal Depression
The Death of Summer
I often refer to fall as the death of summer. Personally, I hate fall. I hate the cold. I hate that it gets darker earlier – and earlier. I don’t even care for the fall décor and the creepy jack o’ lanterns that take over right after Labor Day. And while sometimes I make jokes about this season, and it’s only saving grace being the ever delicious pumpkin spice latte, for some people this time means the start of months of seasonal depression which is no laughing matter.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, most commonly fall/winter. Some symptoms of SAD include:
Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Having low energy
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
What You Can Do
If these symptoms apply to you don’t blow it off as being in a seasonal funk or having the winter blues. There are treatments available that can help. Here are some options you can check into to help alleviate your symptoms.
Therapy – if your symptoms are moderate or worse, contact a mental health professional. Psychotherapy has been proven successful in treating depression. Among other things, it can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that are worsening, and possibly even causing, depression.
Light therapy (phototherapy) – a special light box can be purchased to provide the light that is missing in the winter months. This light can be beneficial in alleviating some of the symptoms associated with SAD because it is often a biological reaction to the changing season.
Get outside! – Enjoy as much natural sunlight as you can. This will serve the same purpose as the light box but with natural sunlight. Natural sunlight also provides warmth and helps make Vitamin D useable in the body.
Exercise – Find an exercise routine that you can enjoy and fit into your lifestyle. Exercise can help you cope with stress, and it releases endorphins that create a pleasure feeling.
Develop Coping Strategies – Find coping strategies that work for you. Find something you enjoy that gives you a sense of accomplishment or that you can focus on for a period of time. Some examples might be: art, writing, joining a club or team, knitting or something you can do with your hands, reading, listening to music, etc.
If you are suffering from seasonal depression, try some of these suggestions, even if you don’t feel you meet the criteria for major depression. You may want to start with a pumpkin spice latte!