What is Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or Seasonal Depression, is a type of depression that typically arises during the colder, darker autumn and winter months.
It’s thought that this happens for a few reasons:
1. There’s less daylight and therefore vitamin D, which can lead to your serotonin levels being affected. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is thought to influence your sense of well-being and happiness. People who suffer from depression often find they lack in serotonin. Less daylight sometimes results in a drop of serotonin.
2. Overproduction of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep patterns and wakefulness. In autumn and winter, the lack of sunlight causes your body to overproduce this hormone. This makes you feel sleepier. A symptom commonly linked to depression.
3. Circadian rhythm. The shorter days and longer hours of darkness can knock off your circadian rhythm, a.k.a your body clock. This can result in sleeplessness, a change in appetite, and a drop in mood.
4. Mourning for summer. If you love the long, warm days of summer, it’s natural that you’re going to resent autumn and winter when they rock around.
Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD’s symptoms mirror those of ‘regular’ depression. Except, these symptoms almost exclusively occur during the autumn and winter months. There is a small percentage (10%) of suffers who suffer SAD during the hotter, summer months, but this is rare.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
• low mood
• lacking energy
• sleeping for longer, finding it difficult to get out of bed
• sleeping during the day
• lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
• lack of motivation
• craving carb-heavy, sugar foods
• change in appetite
• weight gain
How To Manage SAD
Try to get more exercise. A walk outside when it is light can really improve depression and anxiety.
Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating regular, nutritionally-balanced meals. Although these are just some basic self-care practises.
Practising regular self-care can drastically improve your depression.
Sometimes avoiding stress is impossible. However, if you can, avoid putting yourself in stressful situations.
Meet deadlines with plenty of time to spare, keep your workload as manageable as possible, and avoid people who might trigger you. Again, only if you can. I appreciate this is a lot easier said than done.
Heard of a SAD lamp?
It is a lamp that uses a lightbox to simulate sunlight and make up for some of the reduced exposure to light in the winter.
SAD lights produce very bright light – the latest emit an intensity of around 10,000 lux. To compare, a bright summer day can reach 100,000 lux. By sitting in front of a SAD lamp for just half hour to an hour each day you can start feeling a little better after just a few days (here some expel of SAD Lamps)
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
Make sure you’re in good physical health. Many illnesses can look like SAD (hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, etc.), so checking in to see that you’re healthy is a good way to get ready for winter season.
GET AS MUCH SUN AS YOU CAN
Use sunshine to your advantage. Sit in a pool of sunlight indoors if you can’t get outside. Find a window that streams the sun, grab a cuppa, read a book, or just sit and laze about for a spell.
Winter holidays are getting more and more popular. Although heading to snowy winter wonderlands can also lift your mood (just think of all that sunlight bouncing off that crisp, white snow) warming your bones on a tropical beach can’t be beaten.
Keep a set sleep schedule. No sleeping in or going to bed too early. And watch those naps. Too many in a day or too long naps are no-nos.
Aromatherapy can do wonders for your mood. Aromas like lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang are some of the many your brain perceives as pleasant.
Elevate your mood by using them. You don’t need much to get started – even a scented lavender candle would do the trick.
You can also use oil diffusers and scented sticks around your home – or rub some essential oils on your temples.
TALK IT OUT WITH FRIENDS
Whenever you sense your feelings are getting too strong and too dark, talk to someone. Just tell them how you’ve been feeling.
Spend as much time as you can around people that spread positive vibes.
Think coffee & lunch dates with coworkers, group work out classes or co-working places –, use up every chance you’ve got to be around people. Even video calls with old friends are great for improving your mood!
Like any other mental illness, seasonal affective disorder can have a big impact on your life. Just because it goes away for part of the year doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem. If you’re struggling hard, then consider speaking to a therapist (such as CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy) or another health care professional.
If you think to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and still don’t know how to handle it , get in contact with us!