Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short is a concerning and problematic obstacle for many people. The lack of natural light and the often oppressive winter chills can cause prolonged depression, lasting many months and eroding your sense of value and self.
Living with SAD is a challenge, but there are some important things you can remember to take on the winter blues and come out the other end with greater well-being.
1. SAD Is Primarily Related to Light, Not Temperature
While the cold can certainly keep you inside, it is likely not the prime reason for your depression based on recent research. The lack of sunlight is thought to disrupt our melatonin and serotonin balance, which in turn can disturb sleep and cause many of the symptoms related to depression .
What you need to remember here is that your primary concern is light-related and not temperature-related. This is something you can control and manage to a greater degree.
2. Going Outside Will Help
With the first thing in mind, you can definitely go outside. Walk around at a local park, see some sights, socialize with friends, and exercise, however sparingly. Associate with friends who encourage you to be a little more social. You may not want to, and you may need a little kick to get going, but it can do wonders for your emotional well-being.
3. Be Open Minded With Trying New Strategies and Treatments
It’s good to be open to trying different strategies to improve your mood and combat SAD with the guidance of your therapist and doctor. Getting more exercise, considering medications with your doctor, talk therapy, getting more sleep, light therapy boxes, aromatherapy, yoga, and more are all viable tools to fight SAD.
Each person will react to the same treatment differently. Some individuals may respond very well when they change their seasonal sleeping schedule, while others are hardly affected. Some may respond to 30-minute light box exposure in the morning only while others more need prolonged light exposure throughout the day.
It’s good to work with your therapist to try different approaches until you notice something really working. Experiment a little and find something that can reliably work for you for many winters to come.
4. You Don’t Have to “Suffer Through It”
It is easy to see seasonal affect disorder as a temporary issue that you have to suffer through, but it is not something that should ever be easily dismissed.
Talk to a professional. Don’t just get used to the blues and ignore the problem. SAD can dramatically disrupt your life, and proactive steps should be taken. Don’t just dismiss it as a temporary funk, especially when you feel it is impacting your livelihood, your social life, and many other things which are important to you.
5. You Are Not Alone
A landmark Canadian study from the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario found that about 15% of Canadians suffer from what they perceive as the winter blues and 6% suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder .
There are many people tackling their depression in a myriad number of ways. Not only are you not alone, but you have options. Light therapy, counselling, Vitamin D, and simple positive thinking strategies can greatly mitigate SAD.
Speak to a professional, like Noorayne Chevalier; a Registered Psychotherapist to find solutions that improve your winter blues and provide you with some happiness when the sunlight hides for the season.