With the weather starting to cool down and days becoming darker sooner, the change can significantly impact someone’s mood. This mood shift is a common issue because the change in weather and scenery can trigger a unique type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
As ironic as the acronym is, it embodies the overall feeling that people with this kind of depression face. Studies have shown that this change in sunlight creates a hormonal imbalance which makes many people feel the need to sleep longer and stall when completing daily activities.
Some symptoms and signs of SAD generally include excessive sleeping, feelings of tiredness, lack of interest in regular activities and changes in appetite.
Luckily with plenty of research and resources, there are a handful of solutions to this seasonal disorder. These six suggestions are a combination of things that can help others get back to feeling like themselves in a matter of time.
- Talk with a Healthcare Professional:
Before self-diagnosing any condition, it is always best to visit your local doctors’ office to double-check your concerns. Doctors can test and ask specific questions to tell them if this is just a seasonal condition or another form of depression.
This visit allows them to confirm suspicions and provide their patients with proper care so they can continue to fight this condition and move forward.
Doctors may suggest a range of options such as therapy, antidepressant, or other solutions that people can do at home. Georgia State has an array of counseling services available to students free of charge. If you or a loved one wish to learn more about counseling services, visit the university’s website.
- Create A Schedule:
One of the first steps to beating seasonal depression and getting back on track is getting back on a daily schedule. This schedule is probably the best way to improve sleeping habits, as creating an alarm forces you to start your day early.
Another benefit of getting up earlier rather than sleeping in is creating a more positive eating pattern. It helps the body take natural cues for when it’s hungry and allows one to avoid overeating.
Suffering from seasonal depression or any form of depression can cause many people to binge on only one or two meals a day and fail to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day.
Whether it is a simple walk around the neighborhood, yoga or a full-body workout, taking some time out of the day to get any form of exercise can significantly impact someone’s mood.
It benefits the body on the outside, but it also helps regulate what is going on inside.
Exercising is a great stress reliever, and studies have shown that it releases “happy” hormones that boost your mood and help relieve symptoms of depression. Exercising is another way to escape those consuming feelings of sadness and anxiety that can weigh heavy on one’s heart.
It is a healthy distraction wherein people are left with a clear mind and feeling even lighter.
As hard as it is to talk about personal emotions and feelings with friends or professionals, writing those inner thoughts down can be very helpful to those who do not feel comfortable enough to talk it out. People can journal daily or whenever those depressive feelings kick in.
It also serves as a substitute for therapy for those who do not have access to it or have difficulty putting their feelings into words. Journaling also allows people to document and keep track of their emotions to see what triggered those negative feelings.
Journaling is also a form of mental exercise and leaves people in a better mood after releasing their feelings.
- Sun/Light Therapy:
It is easy and feels good to lay in bed in complete darkness during the winter season when it gets darker earlier. Often this is only doing the body and mind more harm than good as it continues to fuel the fire of depression.
For those who suffer from SAD or general depression, getting natural vitamin D and fresh air can increase those hormones that help boost mood and energy. Another alternative is getting an alarm clock that produces artificial light to wake up rather than an obnoxious sound.
It allows people to wake up less stressed while still receiving some natural light without opening any windows.
Although using aromatherapy alone is not enough to get rid of SAD symptoms, it is still a great addition to other self-care routines. Lighting a candle, putting essential oils in a diffuser and even incense are suitable mediums of aromatherapy.
You can pair aromatherapy with activities such as taking a bath, meditation and even sleep to help improve mental clarity and mood. There are also forms of aromatherapy that people can apply to the skin, such as lotions, oils and body washes.
Bath and Body Works created a whole line dedicated to boosting energy, aiding sleep, alleviating stress and more in their extensive line of scents.
Experiencing symptoms of depression can push people to isolate themselves more than they usually would. With COVID-19 still in full effect, isolation is something that many people have become well accustomed to, making it easier to say no to social outings, no matter the size.
Something simple like texting a friend or calling them can be challenging for those who have fallen into this ditch of isolation. Other forms of social isolation can look like canceling plans often, dreading the idea of socializing and just avoiding social interactions altogether.
Studies have shown that when people choose to socialize and spend time doing things they enjoy, it allows them to “direct their energy outward rather than inward.”
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol:
While depressed, whether it is seasonal or year-round, people can turn to unhealthy vices to cope. Drinking alcohol or taking any kind of recreational drugs are used so that people can temporarily escape what they are feeling inside rather than addressing the actual problem.
Although it may feel good at the moment, the comedown can leave people feeling worse than before they started drinking.
Alcohol, like many other drugs, is a depressant. If it gets abused, it will lead to an unhealthy addiction. It is essential to address and pinpoint the problem before drowning out those emotions that may be causing symptoms of SAD or depression.