Many people around the world experience seasonal depression; depression that occurs during a specific season, usually around the same time every year. SAD occurs more often in the fall and winter months, but studies have shown it can occur during any season. Certain factors can bring it on for the first time. According to Maureen Shelly author of "Winter time Blues: How to Manage Seasonal Depression", working night shift, moving to a new region that has harsh winters or less light or being physically or emotionally stressed can predispose you to seasonal mood changes". Lifestyle factors also play a major role; we go outside more and eat more fruits and vegetables in the spring and summer. Our habits and activities change in the fall and winter, we have less sun and sleep patterns change.
Coping with SAD
[ ]Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, your primary care physician can check your Vitamin D levels. If it is low your physician may suggest taking a Vitamin D supplement in the fall and winter or whatever season you experience depression symptoms to help manage your mood.
[ ] Eat fruits, vegetables and practice self care.
[ ]Take a short or long vacation some place warm and sunny during the fall and winter months. That's a great way to get Vitamin D as well.
[ ]Exercise has positive affects on depression.
[ ]Stay active doing winter, fall and indoor activities like skiing, ice skating, hiking, bowling, fall festivals, Christmas festivities, host your own festivities and invite who you want or Google activities that are going on in your area and choose an activity to do alone or with friends a couple times a week if possible.
[ ]Light therapy- During light therapy you sit near a light therapy box. The light gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. A regular light bulb will not work.
[ ]If you try any of these suggestions above and it doesn't help, gets worse or if you are feeling helpless, worthless or having suicidal thoughts please contact a therapist or your physician.
Signs and symptoms of SAD
[ ]Feeling down most of the day, everyday
[ ]Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
[ ]Having low energy
[ ]Losing interest in activities you enjoy
[ ]Changes in appetite and weight (may have a craving for carbohydrates)
[ ]Difficulty concentrating
[ ]Agitation or anxiety
[ ]Thoughts of death or suicide
If you have read my previous blog post on aromatherapy, you know my passion for candles and how different smells can improve your mood. This can also be a tool to put in your tool box for coping with SAD. Try a scent that is a reminder of the season you thrive in.
Get your favorite scents, lighting therapy, a pumpkin spice latte ( I prefer Hazelnut) or hot chocolate, decorate your home with holiday or fall and winter decorations and participate in some fall/winter activities. All seasons can be enjoyable, but with SAD you have to do the work.