Learn about Seasonal Depression
Have any of you been feeling a bit sadder during this start to the new year? Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) is a real challenge that many people face as seasons change, temperatures fall, or we get less sunlight. It impacts roughly 1 in 20 people, each year.
This week in Florida we finally got our first real taste of the winter cold. It may not be the “winter weather” our friends and family further north have had to cope with, but the cold rain, sunless days, and frigid nights are all potential drivers of seasonal depression. Given our recent weather, I think it’s a good time to talk about the impact seasonal changes can have on us, both physically and mentally.
Effects of seasonal depression include mood swings, increased irritability, sluggish feelings, or prolonged sadness. Shorter days and less sunlight often result in less vitamin D in our systems, changes to our biological clocks, and overproduction of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. So, if you feel like you’ve been particularly down this winter, it’s important to check in and see if it’s something that should be addressed.
Here are five strategies someone who suffers from S.A.D, can explore to find relief:
- Go outside more and get some sun. This might seem simple, but much of the impact felt by those suffering with S.A.D. may be related to a lack of sunlight. Find a way to sit near a window for a period of time or look for ways to get out in the sun during the warmer parts of the day (but wear sunscreen with a good SPF!).
- Take Vitamin D supplements. When we struggle to get enough sunlight, we can often become deficient in the very important vitamin D. Ask your doctor if you can add in this supplement, often found at the local grocery store.
- Try light phototherapy. The use of light therapy is great for those who can’t get outside regularly and includes use of a lighted box indoors that helps mimic the beneficial attributes of sunlight.
- Visit your doctor and ask about medication. There are times when medications and other medical interventions are needed for seasonal depression; and if you are struggling you should never hesitate to seek professional help.
- Take advantage of behavioral therapy and counseling. A trained therapist can help you understand why you feel the way you do and offer expert advice during your challenge times. You can call Aspire now to see if this is a great fit for you: (407) 875-3700, Option 3.
Always remember, if you or a family member are struggling and need assistance, my team and I at Aspire want to be your mental health safety net. Visit aspirehealthpartners.com to get more information on our clinical services. Together we can get through these tough seasons, and enjoy more times of sunshine, happiness, and health together.