Seasonal Affective Disorder is defined as "a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer." Around 6% of Americans suffer from it.
According to The New York Times, "Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal and his colleagues first put a name to the disorderin 1984. Today, it’s characterized as a seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. SAD ranges widely in severity, from the doldrums Dr. Rosenthal calls the 'winter blues' to disabling ennui. Its cyclical nature differentiates SAD from major depressive disorder." So, how do you know if you are experiencing SAD or simply a melancholy day or two?
Here are some symptoms to look for:
- Feeling depressed and almost every day if not daily
- Not enjoying activities you once did
- Sleeping issues
- Feeling lazy, agitated, lethargic
- Not being able to concentrate
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or stuck
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Not participating or enjoying activities you once did
Hence, experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than just having an off day or even a bad week - it's a prolonged form of the blues. If this is something you think you might be experiencing, we'd recommend a Telehealth or in-person consultation with Dr. V, but there are also a few things you can do on your own until you can setup an appointment.
- Light Therapy: there are specific sun lamps that have been created specifically to assist with sleep-cycles as "waking in the dark can have a jet lag-like effect for people with SAD." Here are a few that are recommended: the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Lamp and VeriLuxe HappyLight Deluxe.
- Exercise: Get moving! As difficult as it may be on a cold, dark, wintry day, exercise is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mind and body. And, some times, making it happen is the hardest part. Get out of the house, go on a walk, try a yoga video from the comfort of your living room - no matter what it is, just get moving to get those endorphins going. That is what is most important.
- Meditation: Meditation can change your state of mind. You want to find a way to embrace each day as it comes. And, maybe there's even a way to allow your mind to find the good in winter days - something that Norwegians define as "hygge." If you'd like to learn more about it, read this book.
- Help Yourself + Let Us Help You: It is important to not accept that feeling depressed is "just the way things are" because it certainly doesn't have to be. Again, we'd love to consult with you here at Modern Holistic Health and talk about how you've been feeling, supplements, and a lifestyle plan to get you through prolonged winter blues.