Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder at Home
By Randi Morse
When the time changes in the fall, some of us cheer because we get an extra hour of sleep for a day. Then reality sets in and we realize that it gets darker sooner. If you find that your mood seems to drop suddenly when the darkness does, you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that happens when the days become shorter and we're exposed to less natural sunlight. Those who live in a cloudy part of the country tend to suffer it more, as do women. Symptoms of SAD include:
- Feeling depressed every day
- Low energy
- Sleeping problems
- Feeling agitated
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Feeling hopeless
How to Help
If you believe you're suffering from SAD, there are a few things you can try that may help minimize the symptoms. Light box therapy is extremely popular because these large boxes of light mimic sunshine. Most experts believe that sitting in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day will help to regulate your body's circadian rhythm, which can drastically reduce the symptoms of SAD. Researchers at the University of Michigan Depression Center say that utilizing a light box when you first wake up in the morning seems to work the most effectively.
Dawn simulators are another artificial light option that you can use to help battle back the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Unlike loud alarm clocks, dawn simulators slowly but gradually produce light that increases in its intensity, mimicking the motions of the sun on a summer morning. This is a much gentler way of waking up and can also help regulate your circadian rhythm.
Exercise is another way to help offset the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Exercising outside is the best option, but if the weather isn't great for outdoor recreation, try utilizing a treadmill or stationary bike. These exercise machines work best if they are placed near a window so that you can capture a bit of sunshine during your exercise.
When to Seek Help
If you've tried several different at home solutions to help your seasonal affective disorder but are still feeling extremely sad and down, it may be time to speak with your physician. Book an appointment with your doctor and explain the feelings that you are having. Your doctor should be able to offer solutions which may include therapy, or antidepressants.
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