Receptionist 303-986-4197
M – F • 8:30am – 5:00pm

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Westside Behavioral Care / Blog - Depression  / Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder

 Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a mental health condition that certain individuals might develop owing to a seasonal change. Most individuals who experience this mood disorder typically begin to develop symptoms with the start of the fall season. The symptoms worsen during the winter months, and they gradually go away on their own in the spring or summer. Some individuals may also experience a form of SAD known as ‘summer depression’, which starts in spring or summer and ends either in fall or winter. If you experience this mood disorder every year, you’d know it can have a variety of negative effects on how you think and feel. While seeking treatment is recommended for keeping the effects of SAD at bay, there are some other ways to minimize the condition’s effects as well. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what those ways are.
1. Start to prepare for it before the symptoms hit
Typically, the symptoms of SAD develop during the same period every year. This gives you an advantage – you can prepare your mind for the condition, so it doesn’t overwhelm you when the symptoms start to show. So, when fall is around the corner, you should start engaging in activities that you enjoy, including social activities with friends and family. These activities will lift your spirits and give a much-needed boost to your mental health. You should also spare some time every day for exercise, as regular physical activity can have numerous benefits for your psychological health as well. Don’t wait for the symptoms to kick in before starting these activities. Once depression takes its hold, it can be incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to engage in activities, even the most enjoyable ones.
2. Practice healthy eating
What you eat has a lot to do with how you feel. Simply put, if you eat a ton of junk food, there are bound to be negative consequences for your body, which will, in turn, affect your mental health as well. So, it’s best to eat healthy food. Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is recommended, as these are slow-burning foods that provide sustainable energy. These foods are much better than carbs, which drastically enhance energy but tend to make people feel lazy during mid-day. We recommend working with a certified nutrition coach to improve your diet during your SAD phase. Also, the occasional bit of junk food, cookies and candies won’t do much damage.
3. Let the light in
While the root causes of SAD are still not very well understood, one thing’s clear – the condition worsens when there’s a lack of sunlight. Of course, during the winter months, there will be many days when the sun isn’t at the peak of its powers. That’s why it’s essential that individuals with SAD expose themselves to as much natural light as possible. For example, take a walk outside when the sun’s at its strongest (typically noon). When staying indoors during the day, keep the blinds open, so natural light finds its way in. Remember, once the sun goes down, you’ll be reliant on indoor lighting, which is known for negatively affecting symptoms of SAD, as it’s significantly dimmer compared to natural light.
4. Practice aromatherapy
In recent years, aromatherapy has been suggested as one of the management methods for SAD. It involves using essential oils, which can be effective in managing symptoms of not just depression, but insomnia and anxiety as well. While aromatherapy on its own won’t make much of a difference in terms of improving SAD symptoms, it can be beneficial when combined with some other soothing activity. Experts say that essential oils influence certain areas of the brain that dictate mood and sleep. However, you must remember to practice safe aromatherapy, as the use of essential oil diffusers or the ingestion of essential oils can result in harmful effects. Ideally, you should use aroma sticks featuring absorbent materials and apply the oils on the sticks.
5. Increase your Vitamin D intake
If your exposure to sunlight is limited, you’re likely to experience Vitamin D deficiency, which is known to exacerbate the symptoms of depression. That’s why it’s vital that you take vitamin D supplements during the winter months. While there’s no guarantee that increasing vitamin D intake will eliminate SAD symptoms altogether, it will definitely prevent vitamin D deficiency, which can also pose other health risks. Before you start taking a supplement, we recommend consulting a doctor for testing your current levels of vitamin D. You should only take supplements if your vitamin D levels are lower than what’s optimum.
6. Bright light therapy
Bright light therapy involves the use of phototherapy boxes for keeping an individual’s circadian rhythm ticking. When one’s circadian rhythm is on track, it typically has mood-boosting effects. The lights given off by phototherapy boxes mimic natural light from the sun, and they’re much brighter than the lighting offered by regular bulbs. Phototherapy boxes also provide lights in a variety of wavelengths. Ideally, you should practice bright light therapy in the morning within an hour after waking up. You could also seek treatment for your SAD by working with a skilled therapist. This is where health insurance packages like Humana and Kaiser Medicare can come in and play an important role in covering your expenses. Therapists across Littleton, Aurora, and Westminster accept insurance claims provided by Humana. Click the link to find Therapist to help with seasonal depression https://www.westsidebehavioralcare.com/