Winter is approaching. It’s dark at 5PM. There is little sun in Pittsburgh. You feel depressed, but you know it is not always like this. You usually feel good during other seasons. The doctor diagnoses you with Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD – how appropriate.
So what is this ‘SAD’ diagnosis? Symptoms may include the following (MayoClinic.org):
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
This occurs with the changing of the seasons: typically late fall and winter. However, some people experience it in spring and summer. Although it is normal to have days when you feel down, feeling so for an extended period of time warrants physician assistance.
Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy. With light therapy you sit a few feet from a special light therapy box so that you’re exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. In addition to your treatment plan for seasonal affective disorder, try the following “Home remedies” at your home and office.
- Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
- Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help – especially of you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.
Do you think you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder? Take this short quiz to find out.