SAD | Coping with seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" or "winter blues" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter.
Here is a small list of tips and assistance in helping to cope with SAD.
1. Know the signs and symptoms of SAD
The best way to change or improve if you’re a sufferer is to know exactly what the signs of SAD are. Main symptoms are
- depressive emotions during autumn and winter periods
- non-depressive emotions during summer and spring periods (vice versa)
- sleeping more than usual
- lack of focus
- loss of interest in activities
- less energy.
2. Increase daylight contact
The main reason why it’s believed the winter months can be the most depressive is due to lack of light. The best way to combat this is to expose yourself to as much daylight as possible. This can be done by having curtains open in your house, use bright colours in decorations or have an abundance of mirrors to maximise the travel of light. In addition to this attempt to start your day earlier in order to see more daylight and if possible when at work, be outdoors or near daylight.
Get a light box
As well as referring them to a doctor, it may be a good idea to acquire a light-box for the employee, this is a light that is specifically designed for SAD suffers. A light-box contains a bulb that has 2,500 lux, whereas the average bulb is 200-300 lux, and is used to mimic natural sunlight.
3. Healthy living
Another way to combat depressive moods is through living a healthy lifestyle. As exercise is known to increase the flow of dopamine in your brain (a chemical that makes you feel more pleasure and happiness) it is important to exercise frequently and regularly throughout these seasonal periods. If straightforward exercise isn’t really your thing, then take parts in activities with friends, such as football, running, dancing or even golf.
4. Take all medication if instructed
Firstly get in contact with your local GP OR walk-in centre, and talk to them about prescription medications and over the counter drugs and supplements, such as vitamin D. If possible avoid depressants such as alcohol and illegal drugs.
5. Be aware if symptoms are increasing
If you suffer from seasonal depression, consult a psychologist. A informed and qualified psychiatrist can help determine if your symptoms are related to SAD or if there are other causes of depressive attitude. Additional treatments available include psychotherapy, behavioural therapy and possibly antidepressants.
It is vital that SAD sufferers do not trivialise their condition and seek out help if needed as it is a mental health condition like any other