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How to Avoid Feeling SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Health

As wintertime approaches us, along with it comes overcast skies, chilled temperatures, and sometimes the ‘winter blues.’ These changes in weather often bring about feelings of gloom and melancholy, which often don’t affect our way of life, but if they do, it may be Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder  

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression that usually occurs during the fall and winter months of the year when there is less sunlight. Other factors linked to SAD include lower levels of serotonin and melatonin, which are prompted by a shift in our internal biological clocks or circadian rhythm, causing abnormalities within our daily schedules.   

15 million people every year are affected by SAD, and it is important to be able to identify the symptoms. Although the symptoms can be distressing or even alarming, they can be treated. 

What are the symptoms of SAD  

  • Having low energy  
  • Sleeping too much  
  • Overeating; craving for sweet and starchy foods  
  • Weight gain  
  • Avoiding social contact  

These symptoms tend to last about 4 to 5 months of the year. But, if you are suffering from similar symptoms for a more extended period of time or if the symptoms seem beyond reasonable, it might be time to consult your healthcare provider or a mental health specialist.   

Who is more likely to be affected by SAD  

Anyone can be affected by SAD. That’s why millions of Americans are affected every year; many don’t even know they have it. There are specific demographics of people at higher risk, such as women, people who live much higher north or south of the equator with fewer hours of sunlight, young adults, and people who have a personal or family history of depression.  

Everyday tips you can do to manage SAD  

First and foremost, therapy and approved medication may be the best strategy for combatting the ailments of SAD. Still, there are plenty of simple, everyday approaches we can take to help avoid and self-manage the symptoms of SAD. Some of these may seem pretty basic pieces of advice, but they are worth emphasizing!  

  • Lighten up your living space. Make sure you’re letting in as much natural light as possible so you can get the vitamin D you need.  
  • Carve some time out of your schedule and make sure you’re getting your daily exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; even a 20-minute walk will do wonders for your mental health.  
  • Buy some plants. Plants have been proven to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even if you’re not a world-renowned gardener, there are plenty of plants that are easy to maintain.  
  • Maintain a constant routine or schedule. Studies have shown that a daily routine has far-reaching mental health benefits.   
  • Treat yourself. No one knows you better than you know you. Treat yourself to some of your favorite life experiences. 

As the winter months approach, it’s important to remember you’re not alone if you’re struggling with thoughts of anxiety, melancholy, or sadness. It’s a quite common occurrence and nothing to feel embarrassed about. This year, let’s all take the proper steps to make sure we’re all mentally prepared for the coming months.   

If you feel your depression is severe or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, consult a doctor immediately or seek help at the closest emergency room. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255). 

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