How to Cope with Seasonal Depression

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, up to 6% of Americans may suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. This is a mental health condition caused by changes in brain chemicals. These changes are believed to be caused by a combination of shorter daytime hours and less exposure to sunlight. While SAD is most commonly associated with depression symptoms that start in the fall and end in the spring, a small percentage of people get SAD in the summer months.


Seasonal Depression Side Effects and Symptoms

Most people who suffer from seasonal affective depression begin to notice symptoms as young adults. The risk of SAD can increase with age, and the risk is higher in women. Each person may experience depression somewhat differently, but there are some common seasonal side effects and signs to look for. For example, you may feel drowsy during the day and sleep more if your schedule permits. Some people may no longer enjoy activities and relationships they used to enjoy. If you need to cope with sadness, feelings of irritability, social withdrawal, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, a lower sex drive, and trouble focusing can be problematic. Some people managing sadness may also experience an increased appetite, cravings for sugary or high-carb foods, weight gain, and headaches. These symptoms may disappear seasonally, but they may return as the season starts to change once again. It is important to note that SAD shares symptoms with other health conditions, so it is important to seek a medical diagnosis as a first step. Your doctor may complete a physical exam, analyze lab work and complete a mental health analysis.


Seasonal Depression Tips

You can take several steps to ease the symptoms of seasonal affective depression at home and work. For example, even on dark and gloomy days, sit close to a window with the blinds open. To optimize your exposure to sunlight, consider trimming bushes or tree branches near the windows. Another one of the seasonal depression tips is to spend more time outside than you normally do. For example, get in the habit of taking your dog on a walk each day. Physical activity can also be helpful. Outdoor exercise may be best, but even working out indoors can alleviate some symptoms. Another important step is practicing self-care and establishing a regular and healthy sleeping pattern. Skip afternoon naps, and avoid oversleeping in the morning. Get your body regulated to a specific bedtime and wake-up time. If you feel isolated and alone, reach out to a friend, family member, or coworker daily to build better connections.


How to Treat Seasonal Depression

Sadness is a natural emotion, and it is normal for everyone to feel sad occasionally. However, if you can relate to the symptoms of seasonal affective depression and cannot manage those symptoms alone, you should seek treatment. You cannot cure sadness but ease the symptoms and move to a healthier mental space. Some people find that light therapy is particularly beneficial to them. Light therapy involves introducing UV rays into your indoor environment, such as at the start of each day. Using a light box increases your exposure to outdoor light and can stabilize brain chemicals. Many people get the full relief of symptoms they need through a light box alone.


Other people, however, may respond better to antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. During psychotherapy or talk therapy, you can learn how to make behavioral changes that make a meaningful impact. You can also learn to improve thought patterns, manage stress and establish healthier habits. If your doctor believes you would benefit from an antidepressant, you may get a prescription for bupropion or another medication. If you are prescribed an antidepressant, you should take it precisely according to your doctor’s instructions. Other treatment possibilities include herbal remedies, supplements, and even taking a vacation to a sunny location.


Request a Consultation Today

Cypress Lake Recovery is a treatment center in Woodville, Texas that treats people who are suffering from seasonal affective depression. You cannot cure sadness, but you can feel better than you do right now. A dual treatment approach includes holistic treatment, family therapy, and more. Request a consultation at Cypress Lake Recovery today.