Do You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder? Here’s How to Manage It

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression. If you experience a downturn in your mood during the fall and winter months every year, you likely have this disorder. 

It’s normal to miss the warm weather and the sunshine. You’re not alone if you don’t like being confined to the indoors more often due to the weather. However, if this season hits you hard, sending you into a depression you can’t escape, you may have a more serious condition.

When Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Occur?

Seasonal Affective DisorderSource: Shutterstock

If you struggle with seasonal affective disorder, you’ll experience a depression that begins in autumn and lingers throughout the long winter months. This is the time of year when the days are shorter. Less sunlight has an impact on your mental state. You won’t just feel a little blue.

Signs you may have this disorder include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping more
  • Eating more
  • Losing interest in favorite pastimes
  • The inability to concentrate
  • A lack of self-esteem

The condition can lead to severe consequences, such as suicidal tendencies. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are struggling with seasonal depression. The first step in dealing with your symptoms is to make an appointment with a mental health specialist or your primary care physician.

Discuss your concerns about your state of mind every winter. A medical professional can evaluate your physical health, talk about your mental health, and take a blood test to rule out any underlying conditions. 

light therapySource: Shutterstock

If all signs point to SAD, your physician can recommend treatment options. Treatment may include prescription medication, counseling, and light therapy.

Light therapy can literally brighten your day. You’ll use a box that creates a source of light similar to sunshine. When you wake up each morning, you’ll begin your day bathed in light from your box. You should ask for professional advice about a recommended lightbox.

Additional Ways You Can Improve Your Mood

In addition to seeking help from an expert, there are options you can try at home to improve your mood during the fall and winter. Try a natural approach to boost your spirits.

One of the best ways to help yourself is to exercise. If possible, take a brisk walk in the fresh air every day while the sun is shining. You’ll get an essential dose of vitamin D from the sun’s rays. You could also see a dramatic shift for the better in your mood. 

walking in the woods during winterSource: Shutterstock

If walking outside isn’t possible due to poor weather conditions, you can always sign up at your local gym or work out at home. There are countless exercise videos you can purchase or watch for free on the Internet. When you get your body moving, you can combat depression. 

Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques could also make a difference in your mental state. Find music that brings you to a happy place in your mind. Find books or other hobbies that can keep you occupied. If you make an effort, you can manage your seasonal depression.

A Change of Scenery Could Help You to Combat Seasonal Mood Swings

Take a look at your living space. If it’s dark in decor or isn’t letting the light in, try making a change.

winter home makeoverSource: Shutterstock

Put up curtains that are light in color or others that let the sun’s rays filter through. Paint your walls a lighter shade. Try some bright splashes of color to spice up the rooms you use the most.

Consider planning a few getaways during the winter months. You might only go for a weekend or take day trips on the weekend, but you can shake yourself out of a bad mood.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

People tend to isolate themselves when they are depressed. Make sure you keep in touch with friends and family during this difficult time of year. Don’t make excuses or avoid outings. Pick up the phone. Video chat on social media. Look for groups of people who have similar interests to join in activities. 

Winter with FriendsSource: Shutterstock

When you aren’t sitting home alone, you’ll have less time to dwell on your depression. Everyone should have a group of people in their lives that are their go-to support group. If you’re having a hard time, let those close to you know how you are feeling. 

When you are secure in knowing you are not alone, it will be easier to handle your seasonal affective disorder. Being aware, admitting there’s a problem, and actively seeking solutions can brighten your days.

happy winterSource: Shutterstock

A change in the seasons may affect you more than others, but you have many resources to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be open to trying a combination of approaches. Be sure to talk to your doctor if your current solution doesn’t work.

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