• Staff Writer

How Can You Manage Seasonal Depression?

Updated: Feb 2

Do you find yourself feeling down in the winter months? When the days get shorter, the weather cools down, and you're indoors more often, do you feel drained? If so, you may have seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression is a condition where you experience a significant mood change during the winter, but it tends to improve in spring and summer. Some common symptoms of seasonal depression or SAD are sadness, pessimism, irritability, fatigue, lack of interest, lack of focus, insomnia, changes in weight, and suicidal thoughts and actions.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, SAD is more common in women, young people, and those who live further from the equator, where it gets colder in the winter months.

Seasonal depression can vary from person to person. For some, this can be minor and improve through things like activity changes or time. However, SAD can be intense enough to interfere with daily life.

Although seasonal depression is often self-diagnosed, your symptoms have to meet specific criteria for a professional diagnosis. These requirements include symptoms of major depression and depression occurrence during certain months for at least two years. These episodes of depression need to be more frequent than other depression experienced throughout the year.

What Causes Seasonal Depression?

Some experts believe an imbalance of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects your mood, leads to seasonal depression is linked to. Those prone to season depression can also lack vitamin D and overproduce melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Both of these can lead to symptoms like lack of energy, fatigue, and poor mood.

Seasonal depression, although linked to weather and sunlight change, can also be connected to genetics and the relevance of other mental illnesses. Those with depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders are more likely to feel the strong effects of SAD.

How to Manage Seasonal Depression

Even though seasonal depression can be relatively common, it is different for everyone. Treatments that help some people may make little to no difference for others. Some common ways to manage seasonal depression include:

#1. Light Therapy

Light therapy is one of the most common treatments for seasonal depression. This method exposes people to alternative forms of bright light when a reduction in during the short days of the colder months. Lightboxes or daylight lamps are often brighter and meant to mimic the light from the sun without any harmful rays. Using these for a certain amount of time days can improve symptoms for many people.

Light therapy comes with little to no risk or side effects, making it an easy and suitable treatment for most people. Light therapy, although helpful, seems to be a temporary fix. Adding other treatment methods to light treatment provides the most long-term aid to those struggling with seasonal depression.

#2. Exposure to Natural Light

Along with simulated light, ensuring your curtains or blinds are open during the day can help you absorb as much natural sunlight as possible. From sunrise to sunset, expose yourself to as much light as possible. This can help balance the hormone levels that control your sleep and mood.

#3. Talk Therapy

For those who don't find that light therapy makes a noticeable difference, further therapies are available. Talk therapy also helps people suffering from SAD deal with their difficult situations with coping techniques.

#4. Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes, such as physical movement and indoor or outdoor activities to counteract the lack of exercise you usually find in winter, can also help you manage seasonal depression.

Subtle diet changes can also help increase the body's absorption of vitamin D. Improving your food intake with whole foods rich with vitamins and nutrients can boost your mood and energy levels. If that isn't possible or isn't making enough of an impact, taking a vitamin D supplement can also help.

#5. Socialize With Others

For those in need of other ways to manage seasonal depression, social events can help. Planning outings with friends, having get-togethers, and spending time with others can lift your spirits. Again, this is not a cure. Much like light therapy, this is a temporary fix but can increase your mood.

Being alone can worsen the symptoms of seasonal depression. Without interaction and communication, the effects of depression build up. Talking to someone, a therapist, or a friend can help break you break out of a down mood.

#6. Alcohol Consumption

Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption is highly recommended for treating seasonal depression. Not only does alcohol slow you down, but it encourages the adverse effects of SAD. Drinking when you are down isn't just a simple way to cope but can become unhealthy and out of hand.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression is not just feeling bummed out because the sun goes down at five o'clock. Seasonal depression is a clinical diagnosis that often requires treatment to prevent its symptoms from impacting your everyday life. If you notice that you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of seasonal depression, make a point to talk about it. Managing seasonal depression is vital for finding happiness all year round. Letting these emotions overcome you can withdraw you from social activities, health, and everyday functioning. Seeking help through techniques like light therapy, improved diet, exercise, and supplements can work wonders. Beyond that, reaching out to a professional for guidance through treatment may be what you need to work through seasonal depression properly. California Care Detox and Treatment is here for you all year round. Reach out to us today for more resources and guidance on facing seasonal depression. Call us at (949) 281-0632.

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