Seasonal Affective Disorder Is More Than Sadness
By Amy Silva
Occasional feelings of sadness are normal and can happen to anyone. Everyone goes through difficult times now and again and others may be so overwhelmed with stress that it makes them feel down. These types of feelings are temporary and usually don't interfere with day-to-day life. When it begins to consume your thoughts and ability to function normally throughout the day, those are signs it could be depression. If these feelings coincide with the changing of seasons it could be a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
SAD doesn't only occur during the gloomy months of winter for those living in cold areas; it can also affect people during summer and in warm parts of the world.
What Are the Symptoms of SAD?
The severity of symptoms of SAD can be different for everyone and vary with the seasons. Some may feel moody and get angry easily, they may not have a lot of energy and have difficulty sleeping, or sleep excessively. Other symptoms include loss of interest and isolating oneself from friends and activities that are typically enjoyed. Some people may have food cravings and gain weight while others may lose their appetites.
How Seasonal Affective Disorder is Treated
There are medications that may help in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder and talk therapy (psychotherapy) is another option. One of the first treatments to try is getting more Vitamin D, but another is light therapy. During light therapy, the sufferer would be exposed to the light box every morning. For many people experiencing SAD, the light may lift moodiness and symptoms because it imitates real sunshine. It's easy to see how this could benefit those who live farther from the equator and have shorter, darker days during the cold seasons.
Take Care of Yourself
While it may not fully relieve symptoms, keeping your mind occupied and taking care of yourself can help make the days a little more bearable. Aside from a light therapy box, keeping your home brighter may lift your mood as opposed to sitting in a dark room. As difficult as it is to want to move while feeling depressed, exercise can help symptoms. Continuing to do things you love and spending time with people you care about can have an impact as well. Simple self-care techniques such as reading, taking a bath, or spending time in nature and soaking in every bit of sunshine on days where it shines are other ideas that may help.
It isn't easy to find energy and be happy when you're experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, but there are options you can try yourself, as well as professional treatments to assist in treating symptoms.
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