Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically begin at the end of the fall season and continue throughout the winter. As the amount of daylight and temperature decreases, you can experience a drop in serotonin, which affects moods. Those living in places with long winter nights or at high altitudes are at a great risk for SAD, and young women are at a higher risk of experiencing SAD.
Common Symptoms Include: Feeling slow and sluggish, loss of energy, depression, loss of interest in work, hobbies or social activities, change in appetite (typically increase in high carbohydrates), oversleeping, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating.
Effective Treatments for SAD:
- Full spectrum lighting, also known as phototherapy, or light box therapy. You can easily purchase a “SAD Lamp” at your local drugstore, even on Amazon, without a prescription. Speak with your Doctor first for recommendations for the right lamp and the accurate exposure.
- Antidepressants can be used in combination with the other recommended treatments.
- Melatonin to help with sleep and to help develop a better sleep routine.
- Regular physical activity (yoga, walking, running, etc). This helps regulate moods, reduce stress level, and will effectively address any unhealthy eating patters that are currently happening.
- Tracking your energy and it’s patterns will give you more insight on how to better manage your symptoms.
- Get outside as much as possible when you can. Take advantage of the sunlight when it’s there. Go hiking, walking read outside, even just take a coffee break in a park, whatever you can.
- Talk therapy is one of the most recommended and effective treatment methods for SAD. Talk therapy can help you learn effective coping strategies for SAD, and give you additional support as you try to better understand how SAD impacts you.
- Make sure your Vitamin D levels are adequate. Many Americans are low in Vitamin D which is linked to various health issues, including depression. Ask for this blood test from your doctor. A Vitamin D supplement may help you to more easily manage the symptoms of SAD.
SAD will not just go away on it’s own. You need to take action and find ways to be near and under light. Whether it’s taking advantage of limited natural daylight or improving your sleep schedule through use of melatonin, or using light therapy. Talking with friends and loved ones or a therapist will help address your change in mood and will even help you explore the options right for you.
If you are experiencing symptoms of SAD, consider meeting with Aimee or Heather here at the office for talk therapy. They can help you take the initial steps to improving you moods and managing yours symptoms during these winter months. Call or email today.
Written by Aimee Wood and Heather Davidson.