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How to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Rachel Carver

In many areas of the country, shorter days and cloudy skies dominate the winter months. It is common to feel sluggish and to just get sick of bad weather. However, bad moods for long periods of time that coincide with the winter months might be a symptom of seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression.

Seasonal depression is usually associated with times of less sunlight and cold temperatures. Some may experience symptoms in the summer, but this is very rare. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with this form of depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Seasonal depression is a type of depression characterized by occurrence patterns. Symptoms last between 4-5 months per year and include:

  • Sleeping too much
  • Craving extra carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Lack of energy

Help manage your seasonal affective disorder with these tips.

Find an Enjoyable Exercise Routine

It is common for physical activity to decrease during cold weather months because we spend more time indoors. However, pushing yourself to exercise can improve your mood. More movement will give you more energy which will reduce the sluggish feeling we get from too much sitting. Take up a new winter hobby such as snow skiing. Run on a treadmill at home while jamming to your favorite playlist, or find a fun exercise video to increase your blood flow.

Get Social

Cold weather causes many of us to stay in our sweats and find a Netflix show to binge. However, even chatting with a close friend can brighten your day. In this current environment, many of us are having to find more things to do at home. Start a virtual happy hour with your friends, bring out your competitive side with a household card game, or sign up for an outing incorporating social distancing measures that meet your comfort level.

Use Light Therapy

Studies show seasonal depression is triggered by changes in our exposure to sunlight. Daily light therapy does improve the mood of some people with this depression. Health professionals recommend treating seasonal depression with 10,000 lux light for 30 minutes each day. A light therapy box -- a white fluorescent light tube with a plastic screen blocking ultraviolet rays -- can push out as many as 10,000 lux of light.

Call your doctor if your depressed mood stays the same for two weeks or longer. Anyone having thoughts of hurting themselves should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1 (800) 273-8255.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Denver, Colo.

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