Plan Something To Look Forward To
Dont feel stuck during dark winter days. Plan get-togethers with friends, concerts, maybe even a trip. Keep your calendar full, even when you dont always feel like doing something, because it will give you something to look forward to and keep you engaged and connected to your loved onessomething that can help ease symptoms of depression in general.
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What You Need To Know
- Depression is different from feeling sad or unhappy. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.
- Get help. If you think you may be depressed, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
- Women are affected more often than men.
- Without treatment, depression can last weeks, months or years, but most people respond well to medication, therapy or a combination of the two.
- Most people with clinical depression who seek treatment see improvement, usually within weeks.
How Important Are Good Sleeping Habits
A regular sleep-wake pattern should be everyones objective, depressed or not! The problem for people with SAD is an increased pressure to sleep longer hours than they do in the spring and summer. The extra sleep does not provide extra daytime energy but rather is a symptom of depression. Good sleeping habits go out the window, but this is not the patients fault. Effective treatment can quickly normalize the sleep pattern.
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What Is Seasonal Depression
Seasonal depression is a form of depression that happens when the seasons change, usually from summer to winter. There are cases of this occurring also from winter to summer yet, this is less common. The effects that most people feel are loss of energy, more emotional, lack of sleep and depression.
Establish And Maintain Routine
Another way to reset your circadian rhythms is to establish and maintain a routine, says Rohan. Maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible by following a schedule. Get up. Shower. Get dressed. Make your meals at the times that you usually do, she advises. Maintaining a schedule in this way can help regulate the circadian clock.
Keeping a daily planner, for example, might help you establish a schedule and hold yourself accountable for sticking with it.
Rohan also notes that its important to make time to do a hobby or something that you can enjoy.
This is really important for mental health because theres a very strong relationship between doing fun things and mood, Rohan says. She recommends finding simple pleasures that you can enjoy inside like playing a game or reading a book.
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When To See A Doctor
If you find that the natural ways weve listed are helping, then you may have your winter blues under control. But if nothing seems to improve your state of mind, its time to see a doctor.
There are several ways to treat SAD. If you think you have SAD, its important to speak to your GP and find a treatment thats right for you, says Dr Newman-Beinart. Youre likely to be told to get as much natural daylight as possible, or to try talking therapies. However, if those remedies dont help medication is available.
Tip : Exercise Regularlyit Can Be As Effective As Medication
Regular exercise is a powerful way to fight seasonal depression, especially if youre able to exercise outside in natural daylight. Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise can also help to improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem.
Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise-such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing-where you move both your arms and legs.
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days. Even something as simple as walking a dog, for example, can be good exercise for you and the animal, as well as a great way to get outdoors and interact with other people.
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How Will You Fight Seasonal Depression This Year
Once you notice it, seasonal depression seems to be inevitable as the summer months turns to fall. One way to combat depression symptoms and sombre mood of the cold wet weather is to move to a warm climate year round.
However that is not an option for most of us.
How will you fight seasonal depression this year? Leave a comment below to help others feel not alone in this battle.
Recognizing The Signs Of Seasonal Depression
While most people affected by seasonal depression experience a fall-onset, others can experience a spring-onset that carries through the summer months. The common thread of seasonal depression is that the symptoms tend to occur and resolve around the same time each year. While there is no distinct cause of seasonal depression, most experts agree that it is related to a combination of changes in sunlight and certain hormones and neurotransmitters that cause disruptions in the bodys circadian rhythm.
It is important to remember that seasonal depression is a form of depression that is different from everyday sadness or fatigue brought about by the highs and lows associated with daily life. Following are common signs of seasonal depression:
- Sleeping more than usual but still feeling fatigued
- A heavy feeling in the arms and legs
- Increased appetite, especially for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and despair
- Physical aches and pains, especially headaches and stomach issues
- Social withdrawal and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Irritability, anxiety, and difficulty with focus and thinking clearly
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Symptoms Of Seasonal Depression
Depression is distinctly different from everyday feelings of sadness or fatigue that can be brought on by lifes ups and downs. Seasonal depression is marked by some specific symptoms including:
- Sleeping more than usual and feeling drowsy during the day
- Loss of interest in activities that once brought you joy
- Feeling irritable and anxious
- Increased appetite and cravings for carbohydrates
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Although the cause of SAD is not completely understood, it is thought that decreased sunlight in the fall and winter can disrupt your bodys circadian rhythm, causing feelings of depression, says Ram Mahato, M.D., medical director of the Center for Behavioral Health at JFK University Medical Center Center. This change in sunlight and season can also affect your bodys levels of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that affect your mood.
Filling Up My Social Calendar
If Im in the deep, dark throes of seasonal depression, truthfully the last thing I want to do is get dressed, go out, and interact with people. I enjoy being around others, but since withdrawing from social events is a sign of SAD, I accept that its just one of the symptoms I deal with.
There are times I respect my limits and stay in and lets be honest, it often involves a container of cookie dough and Hulu but other times, I nudge myself to get out there and do things.
I find that putting events on my calendar that Im really looking forward to things like gingerbread-making parties or indoor holiday markets forces me to leave the house. Many of these events are free or pretty close to it.
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How To Naturally Fight Seasonal Depression: 9 Tips
Take a moment today and put one of these tips to use. There is no need to plan out your attack for many of these. Go ahead and pick one that seems achievable for you right now, perhaps go for a walk or click the links below and buy your SAD Light for light therapy today.
If you feel your depression has been around since summer check out our post that dives into the most common depression symptoms with tips to ease each one of them.
How Common Is Seasonal Affective Disorder
About 5% of adults in the United States experience SAD. It tends to start in young adulthood. SAD affects women more than men, though researchers arent sure why. About 75% of people who get seasonal affective disorder are women.
About 10% to 20% of people in America may get a milder form of the winter blues.
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Write Yourself A Prescription For Daily Exercise
Make sure youre getting daily aerobic exercise, which Dr. Weill, a pioneer in natural medicine, has recommended as an effective way to treat SAD. Exercise releases endorphins, and combining that with getting fresh air outdoors can do wonders for your mood. You can still run outside when its cold, just gear up and make it happen! Become an early morning exerciser so you can reap the endorphin benefits of your workout all day long.
Meditation And An Annual Winter Mantra
is an incredibly powerful practice for the mind, proven through numerous scientific studies to boost emotional health. This past summer, I made it a goal to sit down and meditate every single day, which Ive done successfully using a free app called Insight Timer.
With meditations geared toward depression and visualizations of sunlight and tropical beaches, this is shaping up to be an important tool in my SAD arsenal.
In the spirit of mindfulness, I also develop a new mantra each year to get me through winter, something that grounds me and brings me back to the present moment instead of wishing for summer.
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Want To Beat Depression For Yourself Or A Friend
W. Nate Upshaw, MD
Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaws holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Floridas leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder , a type of depression, is well-known for causing misery during the dark, cold days of winter, but it can also affect people in the summer. Summertime sadness, sometimes called summertime depression or reverse SAD, is caused by a disturbance in a persons circadian rhythm, which determines a persons sleep-wake cycle. For reasons we dont fully understand yet, some people experience seasonal depression when the available amount of sunlight in their environment decreases or increases significantly.
Summertime SAD is much less well-understood than wintertime seasonal affective disorder. Its important to note that people who develop wintertime SAD tend to not have summertime SAD. Although sunlight is a critical stimulus for the proper working of the bodys sleeping and waking system, we dont fully understand why plentiful amounts of intense sunlight in summer can cause similar effects to its absence in winter, but in different people.
Are you SAD in the Summer?
Coping with Summertime SAD
How Can You Tell If You Might Be Experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder
Since SAD is a form of depression that comes in a seasonal pattern, many of the symptoms are the same as non-seasonal depression, like feeling hopeless or worthless, losing interest in activities youve liked in the past, appetite or weight fluctuations, and struggles with concentration that start in the fall or early winter and subside in the spring and summer. Lucas cited other symptoms like social withdrawal, fatigue, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or pain, and more. These symptoms can show up across a spectrum, but if you are noticing these symptoms more frequently over a period of a few weeks in a row, it may be worth looking into if youre experiencing some seasonal depression, she suggested.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
The main symptoms of SAD include:
- having trouble waking, and sleeping more than usual
- feeling tired and lethargic
- feeling more hungry than usual and craving stodgy and sugary carbohydrates
- gaining weight
- finding it hard to stay connected with family and friends
- feeling anxious, irritable and experiencing a low mood
- having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- losing interest in sex
- feeling helpless or having suicidal thoughts
The symptoms of SAD often get better during the spring and summer months.
Avoid Unhealthy Thought Patterns
How are your thoughts? What are you thinking about constantly?
Sometimes, I find it helps me to write down my thoughts out in a journal.
Its ok to feel things, but you need to address your unhealthy thought patterns. Are you telling yourself that no one cares about you? Is hopelessness playing on repeat in your mind?
This is why journaling is so important! It can help you understand yourself. Rewrite your inner narrative.
After you get out all of your feelings, change what you are writing. Start telling yourself why you are happy and begin to find things to celebrate instead.
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What Else Can You Do If You Struggle With Seasonal Depression
“In general those afflicted with SAD may want to prepare in advance, plan for mood boosting activities in the winter months, join a club, sign up for regular activities, volunteer, develop good exercise habits and incorporate walks with friends,” Bonney says.
But if SAD has already got you feeling down, there are also ways to cope, including consulting with a physician regarding specific symptoms and treatment options.
“If your symptoms are severe your physician may recommend anti-depressants or other treatment options,” Bonney says.
Treatments can include medication or prescribed light boxes, Powell adds.
Otherwise, anything that can make your environment have more sun is beneficial.
“Opening the blinds, sitting closer to the windows, moving your desk next to a window. All of that exposure can be very helpful,” he says. “Getting outside is absolutely helpful. So anything you can do, whether it’s eating lunch at a park or going on walks… that extra sunlight can make a big difference.”
Dont Neglect Your Self
Remember the cold and dark and how that hinders people from doing things? Usually, those things are what people would classify as their self-care or positive coping, Dr. Owen said. Self-care is so often the answer for moms for so many things. You cannot continue to pour out energy and care if you dont put some in, he said.
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Home Remedies For Seasonal Depression
Symptoms of SAD typically improve on their own when the seasons change, but treatment can make symptoms more manageable and improve more quickly.
Professional treatment for SAD often includes medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , and/or therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy .
If symptoms are milder, SAD may be effectively managed with home treatments. Home treatments can also be used along with professional treatments.
Is Seasonal Depression Real
The term seasonal affective disorder was coined in the 1980s by Norman Rosenthal, MD, a psychiatrist and research scientist who studied mood and biological rhythm disorders at the National Institutes of Mental Health. In his best-selling book Winter Blues, he revealed his own struggle with SAD and pointed to light deprivation as a major cause. By the 1990s, the concept of seasonal depression was generally accepted by most Americans.
In 2015, researchers announced theyd discovered a new explanation for seasonal ups and downs: Genes promoting inflammation are more active in winter. This could be why many chronic conditions including Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and depression flare in the colder, darker months.
Then in 2016, a report analyzing data from 34,000 Americans suggested that SAD either doesnt exist or is very rare. Was seasonal depression merely a widespread cultural myth? For every statistic that supports the winter blues, some experts argued, you can find another that indicates the opposite. Suicide rates are higher in spring and summer. And in some communities near the Arctic Circle that get little or no sun in winter, depression rates are steady year-round and sometimes lower than in regions much farther south.
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Tips For Getting Through Seasonal Depression
Fall has come. If your mental health is affected by the change of seasons whether you have seasonal depression, postpartum depression or seasonal affective disorder here are some great tips on getting through the transition of the seasons.
Transition: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
It is the season, folks. Of change. The light changes. The temperature changes. The leaves and flowers and last pieces of summer-ness change. School starts. Work might be busier. People are outside less. For many of us as we add layers of clothing, we also add layers of distress. Season change and the start of Autumn is exciting for many but, for others, it brings with a veil of worry, anxiety, sadness, and discomfort in the form of depressed or anxious moods, or, from some of you, seasonal depression.
And for moms who are already struggling with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, this change can feel like too much to bear. Over here in Boulder, my phone rings more often and so I can see the connection pretty clearly.
2. Make sure you are meeting your basic needs. Sleep, nutrition , exercise, and water intake are all imperative for brain health and functioning and can help us to tolerate the effects of stress.
3. Stay connected. As the weather changes, we all seem to go back indoors and, too often, this isolation contributes to feelings of depression and anxiety. Reach out to those people in your life whom you feel your best around.