If you live in a snowy and cold region during the winter months, chances are you’ve felt sad during this time of year for seemingly no reason. But if you get severe symptoms during this time of year, you might have SAD, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder. SAD can happen during any change of the seasons, but it is most common during the transition from fall to winter. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:
- Feeling depressed most of the time.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Being very fatigued and having no energy even if you’re sleeping a lot.
- Losing interest in activities you used to be excited for.
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual.
- Having changes in appetite or weight.
- Feeling annoyed very easily or being irritable.
- Difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (very serious – see a doctor).
So, what causes SAD anyway? It could be caused by a number of things including:
- Your biological clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm. The decreased level of sunlight in the fall and winter could cause SAD.
- Serotonin levels. Reduced sunlight could cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that can affect mood.
- Melatonin levels. The changing of seasons can affect your melatonin levels which can affect your mood and sleep habits.
What can you do if you think you have SAD?
First, see a doctor if you feel so depressed you feel hopeless, your eating habits have changed, you’re thinking about suicide or you turn to alcohol or drugs for comfort.
If your symptoms are subtler, try the following:
- Get more sunlight ASAP! Open your blinds and get as much sun as you can in your home. Move furniture so you’re able to be in the sun more.
- Get a light that mimics sunlight. These have been shown to help SAD drastically. Look up light therapy for SAD or light lamps. They are usually around $100.
- Get more exercise. Exercise naturally boosts your mood and can help beat SAD and reduce stress naturally. Even going for a short walk can help.
- Get outside. Watch the weather and avoid being outside too long if it is very cold, but even a few minutes of being outside, even if it is cloudy, can help your mood this time of year.
- Avoid spending too much time alone. Spending time with loved ones can boost your mood naturally. Get lots of hugs this time of year too!
- Remember to eat healthy. Eating too many desserts or drinking too much at this time of year can cause you to feel sluggish, ill or make your blood sugar levels crash so that you feel cranky and tired. Keep an eye on your diet and mood to see what affects you.
Do you think you get SAD at this time of year? What are some things that help you? Do you have light therapy in your home? Which lamp do you recommend? Share with us!