Some people like the cold weather of winter and spring, but others hate the frequent rain and lack of sunlight. If you experience the winter blues but recover quickly in the spring, you might categorize your overwhelming cheerlessness as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
A change in the number of hours of daylight can affect your mood, appetite, and general health. This is most common in the winter and fall. However, managing SAD is entirely possible and may even prove mentally refreshing.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
You may be more familiar with things like clinical depression or major depressive disorder, which the American Psychiatric Association defines as persistent negative thoughts, actions, and feelings. SAD, however, follows a pattern, emerging mostly in the fall and winter.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep patterns can have hormonal effects on the mood and body. On shorter days with less sunlight, the body produces more melatonin, which can trigger fatigue. In the same way, having less serotonin can affect your mood and appetite, making you feel empty or lonely.
Symptoms of SAD
If you’re new to the effects of SAD, it can be challenging to distinguish your feelings from those of clinical depression symptoms. As the name suggests, SAD is marked by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low energy, anger, and trouble sleeping.
Sometimes, you’ll lose interest in your favorite hobbies—perhaps you’ll avoid picking up your once-trusty paintbrush or kick your running shoes to the side. Other times, you might fall victim to the wrath of weight gain by taking too frequent trips to the pantry in the middle of the night.
While overwhelming and defeating, SAD is nowhere near impossible to treat. Your healthcare provider might suggest light therapy, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or meditation. By making the appropriate lifestyle changes and developing productive habits, you can easily overcome the seasonal blues.
- Get Regular Exercise
We’ll be the first to admit that the treadmill is the last place we’d like to be over the winter. But regular exercise can help you get the endorphins you need, which can make you feel better and give you more energy.
- Give Light Therapy a Shot
Lightboxes that block UV light can raise your serotonin levels and slow down the production of melatonin, which can improve your mood after a few sessions.
Battling SAD often means overcoming antisocial tendencies. Taking an online Zumba class with your family or having a video call with your friends can give you a sense of community and belonging.
- Take a Drive
Nowadays, traveling isn’t on anyone’s radar—but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a scenic drive. Keep the windows down to get a whiff of fresh air and a much-needed escape from your room cave.
- Eat Well
When SAD comes around, it can be tempting to dive face-first into a giant tub of chocolate ice cream. However, a nutritious diet rich in fiber, healthy fats, and complex carbs might serve you better in the long run.
- Get Enough Sleep
Keep those thumbs from scrolling before bed! Instead, lull yourself to sleep with a calming, meditative podcast or gentle nightlight.
- Manage Stress Levels
If you work or study from home, you might want to set aside time for yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, or deep breathing to help you relax.
Though seemingly difficult to overcome, SAD is very treatable. By openly communicating with your loved ones and mental healthcare provider, you can take the appropriate steps to address your debilitating feelings.
Williamsburg Therapy Group is here to help you no matter where you are emotionally, and we want to match you with a professional who cares and can assist you. If you’re looking for depression therapy in Austin, Texas, get in touch with us today to see how we can help.
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