It is extremely tempting to hibernate during the winter season, but that isnt necessarily the healthiest thing to do, especially for our mental health. Even though theres a certain level of comfort in laying on your couch or in bed wearing pajamas watching mindless TV or a good movie, its keeps you indoors and exposes you to depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects people in the winter months, bringing down their mood and causing them to feel unmotivated and depressed. There is a difference between SAD and clinical depression, which can be debilitating. SAD is a condition that specifically affects people during the winter months, whereas depression isnt contingent upon the seasons. People who live with depression can be depressed at any time of the year. SAD creeps up on people and they dont even realize that they are depressed sometimes. They feel lethargic, unmotivated and they dont feel the need to be social. If youre experiencing these symptoms in the wintertime, its important that you acknowledge them. SAD can get worse if you dont treat it. One thing that can help when youre experiencing symptoms of SAD specifically is to get outside see the sun. Sunlight gives you that much needed vitamin D. If you live in place that is cloudy or overcast during the wintertime, consider investing in a happy light, or an LED light that you can sit in front of that increases your serotonin levels. They are relatively inexpensive and can provide you with much needed relief from the wintertime blues. SAD has the potential to negatively impact your life, but it doesnt have to. It is actually highly treatable, especially if youre willing to seek the help of a therapist. Just like clinical depression, SAD is responsive to talk therapy along with your other efforts to get outside. There are symptoms to look out for if you think you might be suffering from SAD. They are:
- Feeling apathetic
- Excessive sleepiness or fatigue
- Appetite changes eating too much or not enough
- Social isolation
- Sleep changes insomnia or oversleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Depressed or low mood
When to contact a doctor:
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm, contact a medical professional immediately. This requires treatment from a licensed mental health professional. These thoughts might be frightening but they need to be evaluated for your own safety.
SAD doesnt have to ruin the wintertime for you. Remember that there are treatment options out there and you dont have to suffer needlessly. Another thing to remember is that youre not alone. There are many other people out there who are coping with SAD just like you and they might now even know! People sometimes assume that winter is supposed to be drab or depressing, but it doesnt have to drag you down to the point where youre having trouble functioning. Learn what you can do to get through winter and start feeling better. Knowing more about SAD can help you spot the symptoms early and get the right help that you need.