Holiday Season Got You ‘SAD’? The Answer May Be To Lighten Up
It’s funny how the holidays are when you are supposed to be filled with energy and cheer, but somehow they manage to actually drain you. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, the weather is colder, it’s harder to get up and out of the house and motivation to work out slips away. Many people find themselves feeling disassociated from their typical selves, some even become downright depressed. This depressed feeling is none other than seasonal depression, or as the medical world refers to it, Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known—appropriately enough—as SAD, is depression that is brought on by changes in seasons but particularly with the start of fall and through the winter months. Anyone can experience seasonal depression, but fortunately, the affliction usually diminishes with longer daylight hours beginning in the spring.
The Doctor Will See You Now
You can’t change the seasons but you can take control of how they influence you. Dr. Frances Capraro, M.D., a personalized care physician with SignatureMD in Satellite Beach, Florida, shared professional pointers and the latest research on this evergreen health subject.
As it turns out, certain people are more at risk. “SAD affects women more than men, and younger people rather than elderly people. It affects people more the further away they live from the equator due to even shorter hours of daylight.” These people—as well as their family and friends—should take notice and try to be more aware and recognize potential signs of depression kicking in.
How Do You Know You Have Seasonal Depression?
You may not realize the way you’re feeling is categorized as SAD. “Some warning signs of the disorder would be feeling sad, tired, and irritable, and sleeping or eating too much—similar to the signs of major depression,” says Dr. Capraro. If you notice any of these changes occurring in yourself or in others, it might be time to take action, and that doesn’t always mean going to the doctor’s office.
Turn Your Frown, Upside Down
Treatment for seasonal depression depends on your degree of depression. “Some people may benefit simply from spending more time outdoors in the natural light, and exercising. But, some individuals will require antidepressants, or light therapy, and the symptoms usually get better as the days get longer,” she says.
In addition to Dr. Capraro’s tips, the Huffington Post has even more ways to help overcome seasonal depression.
- Get moving. Go to the gym and get some exercise. Aerobic exercises in particularwill not only stimulate your endorphins but it also helps decrease stress, and thus improves your mood. Plus being in a social setting, and interacting with other people affects your mood in a more positive way.
- Get out of town. Plan a trip, even if it is just for the weekend, to somewhere warmer, if you can afford it. Sunshine and warmth is the opposite of cold and grey, and looking forward to a change in climate like this can decrease your SAD.
- Get closer to the window. That is, if you’re working at a desk all day. Being able to see natural light over periods of time enhances your mood subconsciously. If you CAN’T move around your desk chair, consider ordering a light box that offers the same affect.
- Get social. Mood disorders can always be improved with social interaction especially when surrounding yourself with positive people you know you can lean on.
- Change your attitude about winter. Don’t start the winter off with an “OH NO!” feeling. Start it off with a positive attitude and think of what winter brings that summer does not. Like family gatherings for holidays, skiing, sledding, peppermint mocha coffee! These things only stick around for the winter so enjoy them, don’t dread them!
Sources – in order of appearance
- http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview. Seasonal Affective Disorder – Topic Overview.
- https://signaturemd.com/5-winter-exercises-that-anyone-can-do 5 Winter exercises that anyone can do.
- https://signaturemd.com/. Dr. Capraro’s SMD Bio Page.
- https://signaturemd.com/. SignatureMD Main Website Home Page.
- http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/light-therapy/basics/definition/prc-20009617. Light Therapy Definition.
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-alpert/seasonal-affective-disorder_b_4784798.html. 6 Ways to Defeat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).