I have been looking around the internet for ways to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder because getting through those long, dark winter months can get super stressful and exhausting.
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is diagnosed if there are symptoms of depression that occur on a recurring seasonal basis. For most people suffering from SAD, the winter months when days become shorter and there is more darkness than daylight, are when the symptoms develop and may become severe.
This article does not constitute medical advice. Please see your medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Also, this post includes affiliate links and I will receive compensation (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase! Click here to read my affiliate disclosure.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
No one knows for sure what causes the symptoms, but most research agrees Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs primarily with the onset of winter and the lack of sunlight. Some research suggests the reduced sunlight, particularly in places far away from the equator, causes a reduction in melatonin, serotonin, and a disruption of the circadian rhythm. There may also be a link to a family history of depression.
What are the Symptoms of SAD?
Symptoms of SAD can be similar to those of clinical depression, and can occur in varying degrees. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms are
- Feeling hopeless
- Less energy
- Change in sleep
- Less interest in activities
- Craving certain foods
- Gaining weight
- Not being able to concentrate
- Problems processing information
How to Cope with Symptoms of SAD
Symptoms of winter onset depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder that are severe should be treated by a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist. Treatment options may include medication, counseling, and light therapy. It is important to check with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and determine appropriate treatment. Do not ignore symptoms when they appear as they can become more severe and debilitating as winter progresses.
The Mayo Clinic suggests some simple things that most people can easily do to help lessen the symptoms as winter approaches:
- Turn on lights
- Open curtains to let in sunlight
- Sit near a window
- Take a walk
- Exercise regularly
- Be out among people
- Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light therapy can be part of a treatment plan for Seasonal Affective Disorder where a person sits in front of a light box specifically designed to treat SAD. Light therapy boxes simulate daytime light and can be bought at a pharmacy or hardware store as well as online. Make sure the light therapy box has been tested to filter out harmful ultraviolet rays and is specifically designed for treating symptoms of SAD. Follow the product directions for use.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can significantly interfere with a sense of well-being and the ability to be productive during the winter months. People who notice these symptoms of depression recurring on a cyclical basis should consult their physician to discuss the best way to manage the symptoms of SAD.
If you’re looking for more ways to take care of yourself, check out my Self Care Success Kit.
This post includes affiliate links and I will receive compensation (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase! Click here to read my affiliate disclosure.