Does your mood get worse when winter approaches? Do you suddenly experience feelings of sadness when the weather gets chillier? Unknowingly, you may be experiencing a seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as SAD. This condition is identified by the beginning of depression from late fall to the early winter months when there is not enough sunlight available.
The condition is believed to occur as the daily body rhythms get out-of-sync due to the reduced exposure to sunlight. SAD affects almost three percent of the American population, meaning nine million people. This kind of winter depression was first recognized by a team of scientists in 1984 that discovered a tendency to experience seasonal behavior and mood changes with mild and severe mood shifts.
- Symptoms of SAD
- Too much sleep
- Daytime fatigue
- Weight gain
- Diminished sex drive or low interest in social activities
Women are more prone to suffer from SAD than men owing to hormonal factors, although it becomes less common after menopause. It is advised not to practice self-diagnosis, and a visit to the doctor will ensure you don’t take any antidepressants that can harm you in the long run.
Using medication in the autumn season to prevent and treat seasonal affective disorder before your mood begins to decline can also help. Several studies have shown that patients suffering from SAD who received antidepressants at the beginning of fall were less susceptible to winter depression as compared to other people. If you have already experienced winter depression, make sure you take care of it the next year.
Ways to Prevent and Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
It may also help to attend additional therapy sessions or a support group to prevent and treat seasonal affective disorder. Moreover, it is also a good idea, suggested by some therapists, to do some homework prior to your formal therapy sessions. It could be anything from keeping a mood journal to tracking your feelings and emotions to evaluating and analyzing negative moods for purposes of changing negative thoughts. If you have suffered an upsetting incident, avoid ruminating, which is going over and over a distressing experience or your apparent inadequacies, which only leaves you feeling worthless.
Another effective method to reduce the intensity of SAD is light therapy. It has been proven successful to fight seasonal depression. It is used with a combination of antidepressant medication and a melatonin supplement that aids to synchronize the body clock. This innovative therapy involves using a 10,000-lux light box indoors for around 30 minutes every morning. Consult your doctor about the type of light box and follow specific instructions on when it should be used and for how long.
Staying outdoors to benefit from sunlight also helps a lot of people to fight depression symptoms. Moreover, regular exercise and networking with positive people also produces positive results to relieve the symptoms. At all times, do not be tempted to go out in the heat. Many experts suggest a diet with adequate portions of protein and a lot of complex carbohydrates to prevent and treat seasonal affective disorder.