It’s that time of the year again when the leaves begin to fall and the air feels brisk, and before we know it, it’ll be snowing and in the negatives. With this change in the season it’s completely normal to feel the “winter blues” or “seasonal funk,” but what if it feels more than that? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons with symptoms starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. Symptoms may include: feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day; losing interest in activities you once enjoyed; low energy; trouble sleeping; changes in appetite and/or weight; feeling more irritable than usual; difficulty concentrating. If you’re feeling SAD here are some tips and tricks to get you through the next couple of months:
- Talk with your care team: SAD is a form of depression and can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Talking with your counselor and primary care physician (PCP) will be important during this time period so that you can get the help that you need.
- Prepare in the fall and prioritize social activities: Engage in mood-boosting activities that help you feel healthy (physically, psychologically, etc.). This could include enjoyable activities, initiating group chats with friends/family, picking up fun hobbies, and engaging in clubs/groups. As we’ve learned through the ongoing pandemic, finding creative ways to stay connected during times of increased isolation is of the utmost importance.
- Add more light: Light therapy is a treatment option for SAD in which one exposes themselves to artificial light to help the circadian rhythm stay on track. Phototherapy boxes give off light that mimics sunshine and is significantly brighter than regular bulbs. Dawn simulators can also be used as they produce light that gradually increases in intensity, just like the sun.