When the days shorten and the weather cools, it’s common to want to stay in bed longer and keep lots of comfort food on hand. But for many, a case of what we shrug off as “the holiday blues” is actually a form of winter depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. People with this condition typically experience melancholy moods, lethargy, and an increase in appetite during the fall and winter, but find that their symptoms clear up when the days get longer and the weather warms. If this sounds like you or a loved one, consider these practical tips for overcoming seasonal affective disorder.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER TREATMENT: LIGHT THERAPY
One of the most common remedies for SAD is a special lightbox that’s at least ten times stronger than the average light bulb. Phototherapy is most effective when done in the morning for half an hour. As a supplement to light therapy, some people also use dawn simulators. Like alarm clocks, they’re designed to wake you up, but instead of emitting noise, they brighten your bedroom gradually to let you know it’s time to start the day.
STAY ACTIVE– PREFERABLY OUTSIDE
Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can boost your mood, as well as combat the weight gain that often accompanies SAD. Since SAD is linked to shorter daylight hours, it’s important to spend time outside as much as possible. Taking your exercise routine outdoors, even on cloudy days, can be especially beneficial. When that isn’t possible, try to work out near a window.
FIGHT WINTER DEPRESSION BY ESTABLISHING A HEALTHY DIET
People with winter depression often crave more carbs during this time of year. Balancing those with fruits and vegetables, especially Vitamin D-rich foods, can help stabilize your moods.
TAKE UP A HOBBY
Having a new activity to look forward to– a fitness class, book club, woodworking, or other pastimes– can enhance your sense of well-being.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Although you may not feel like socializing, spending quality time with friends and family can keep symptoms of the holiday blues at bay.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER TREATMENT
When seasonal disorder symptoms are severe or don’t respond to lifestyle adjustments such as those mentioned above, it may be time to seek professional help. Ridgeview Institute offers comprehensive, customized SAD treatment that may include hospitalization and outpatient counseling. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.