SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Combat It
Every year up to 20% of people in the U.S. deal with seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Although it is temporary- occurs only during the fall and winter, or in rare cases, only in the summer- it can worsen and affect family or work life. Aafp.org claims that it is more common in women and also those over the age of 20. However, while you may not fit those criteria, it is still important to recognize the symptoms of SAD for yourself or in others in order to overcome or avoid it.
The symptoms of SAD are often left undetected because the person who is suffering may not act out or act inappropriately. But often, these people aren’t acting themselves and may need some help to get out of that slump. Some common symptoms include:
- Shift in sleeping patterns. For example, difficulty waking up in the morning, difficulty sleeping during the night, or sleeping more during the day.
- Loss of energy. Feeling lethargic accompanied by a lack of desire to “get out.”
- Anxiety, irritability, depression, or lack of hope.
- Difficulty coping, transitioning, or dealing with stress.
- Craving of starches, carbohydrates, and sweets, leading to weight gain.
Before winter fully hits, there is still a chance that these symptoms can come up during the fall, also. Even though the fall just started, there is still time to get a grip on it now.
- Start now to go out regularly. One of the speculated reasons for SAD is the lack of daylight. Although, it’s also possible that the colder weather is simply driving you inside. For these reasons, you should make a plan to go outside daily and soak in as much sun as possible. During your lunch break, take a walk. When you get up in the morning, sit outside with a blanket while you sip some hot cocoa.
- Make plans with friends. When you’re feeling down, it is not easy to motivate yourself to make plans and fully carry them out. Make consistent plans now to spend time with friends. You can plan on brunch every Sunday, or a monthly book club. Whatever you can find that will get you together with friends on a regular basis works.
- Take a community class. One way to avoid getting down is to have a few things to look forward to. You can look through your parks and recreation department, school district, or library system for adult classes to learn a new hobby or skill. Since you pay for these in advance, there is a greater incentive to follow through.
Even if you take steps to avoid it, there is still the possibility of getting stuck in the thick of a winter depression. So if it comes around, and you aren’t sure what to do, keep these tips in mind.
- Instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on exercising for the feelings it gives you. If you notice that yoga makes you feel looser, starts your day well, and keeps you moving the rest of the day, then keep doing it! If you are more of a runner or a swimmer, find out about local YMCAs or gyms that provide the type of exercise you prefer.
- Get some light. There is so much evidence that the amount of sunlight you encounter affects your mood. Assess your situation. Do you go out enough? If you don’t have the opportunity to go out, consider investing in a light therapy lamp. Check amazon.com or Target, as there are many options.
- Laugh, smile, and find small things that make you happy. There is a theory that smiling will actually change your chemistry and help you feel better. Tip: put a pencil in between your upper lip and nose and hold it there with your lip instead of your hand. This process forces you to smile.
- Talk to a healthcare professional. SAD is a very real and very unfortunate condition. If you are still struggling amid your efforts, just let your doctor or counselor know and they can customize the help you need.
While these suggestions may not be for you, there may be many other ways that you can avoid or combat these symptoms. At Lifeline Connections, we are here to help you stay clean and free from the chains of drug use. We are here to support you and provide a way to enjoy your life. Call or email us with your questions: Phone 360-397-8246 ext. 7580 or Email email@example.com.