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Seasonal Affective Disorder and How To Treat It

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It is extremely tempting to hibernate during the winter season, but that isn't necessarily the healthiest thing to do, especially for our mental health. Even though there's a certain level of comfort in laying on your couch or in bed wearing pajamas watching mindless TV or a good movie, it's 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 isn't 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 don't even realize that they are depressed sometimes. They feel lethargic, unmotivated and they don't feel the need to be social.  If you're experiencing these symptoms in the wintertime, it's important that you acknowledge them. SAD can get worse if you don't treat it. One thing that can help when you're 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 doesn't have to. It is actually highly treatable, especially if you're 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
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • 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 doesn't have to ruin the wintertime for you. Remember that there are treatment options out there and you don't have to suffer needlessly. Another thing to remember is that you're 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 doesn't have to drag you down to the point where you're 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.