Tips to Help Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

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While the holidays can be a time of joy, for many Americans it actually has the opposite effect. Commonly known as the wintertime blues, seasonal affective disorder is a condition that affects millions of Americans each year. When the days get shorter and cold temperatures drive us indoors for the season, we all get a little cabin fever. 

Some people experience more severe physical and emotional symptoms with the change of season, and this can throw them off course. Struggling with seasonal affective disorder doesn’t need to be a foregone conclusion, though. There are plenty of methods that people can use to manage and reduce the impact that SAD has on their day-to-day lives.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is actually a form of depression, a chemically-based mental disorder, brought on by the changing seasons. It can be brought on by any seasonal change but is most common in the wintertime, due in part to a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels at this time of year. 

Those who are already struggling with mental conditions like depression, anxiety, or addiction are more at risk for SAD. The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are similar to those of depression, and include:

  • Increased anxiety and depression

  • Weight gain and food cravings

  • A lack of energy

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Lost interest in activities and people

  • General fatigue

Tips for Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

The best way to keep Seasonal Affective Disorder from derailing your recovery is to be aware of its effects and to recognize them if they crop up. If you do experience discomfort from SAD, get help right away, before it becomes a big problem. Make an appointment with a healthcare professional immediately. There are lots of ways you can boost your attitude and dispel the wintertime blues by making some small changes to your daily life:

  • Let in the Light: One of the main reasons SAD causes hormonal changes in our bodies is because we’re deprived of nourishing sunlight. Open all the windows in your home and let in some light. Make it a point to go outside for a while each day, especially in the morning. If you feel really lousy, light therapy can be really helpful.

  • Get Moving: It may seem redundant, but getting plenty of exercise really is a cure-all when dealing with mental disorders. The endorphins released by physical activity balance you out and make you feel great! Relaxation exercises like yoga can have an additional calming effect. 

  • Get Balanced: There are lots of supplements that have been shown to help with SAD, like melatonin and omega-3 fatty acids. Check with your doctor before beginning any supplements to make sure they won’t interfere with your other medications. If you’re really struggling with SAD, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant for you. 

  • Meditate: Meditation can be a highly effective way to reduce the impact that seasonal affective disorder has on your life. Routine meditation is a great way to get into the habit of practiced relaxation, helping promote better brain control and a grasp on one’s emotions. This is why meditation is a recommended activity to help with a variety of mental disorders, from addiction to bipolar disorder and many more.

Reach out to Loved Ones: Building a strong support network can help lessen the intense feeling of depression that is caused by seasonal affective disorder. Using a social circle to promote better mental health is actually a key clinical practice, nowadays. This is best shown in the therapeutic community model, which has grown prominence in recent years.


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