Are You Suffering from S(seasonal) A(ffective) D(isorder)?

The winter season brings many joyful feelings as we celebrate the holidays, play in the snow, and sip on warm chocolate. However, for many people, the winter season also brings tiredness, laziness, and even sadness. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is defined as a mood disorder that spikes around the same time each year when there is less sunlight, aka winter. 

Common symptoms include fatigue, social withdrawal, and even depression. The Mayo Clinic categorizes this disorder as “very common” among women and young teens. Therefore, you are not alone. 

It can be scary to label your condition as a disorder because a label makes things real and a disorder implies something is wrong with you. However, you don’t need a doctor to label you, SAD can be self-diagnosable. If it makes you feel better, you do not need to label it at all! The goal is to identify and fix the problem not just name it. 

After all, this condition makes sense. Sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D which boosts our energy and moods. During winter, sunlight is harder to come by and therefore our Vit-D levels drop. So, no you are not being lazy, it’s more because your body is lacking a primary source of energy! 

Well, we’ve identified the issue and possible causes, but how do we fix it? There is a multitude of things you can do to combat your winter blues. And as they say, it’s different for everyone. 

First off, get sunlight. Consider waking up earlier so that your day is a bit longer and go to bed earlier so that the night isn’t so succumbing. Maybe go for an afternoon walk to get both your sunshine and your steps in. 

Otherwise, you can consider Vit-D pills. A safe dosage can be bought at any pharmacy as an over the counter drug, no prescriptions needed. Of course you should check the side effects and make sure it is safe/suitable for you to take. 

A huge change in diet is not necessary, luckily there are some foods proven to increase serotonin levels. Opt for some nuts and seeds as a snack, or grab some pineapples and get your fruit intake up. 

If going to the gym has been on your to-do list, then this is a perfect time. Excessive research has proven that there is a direct relation between exercise and dopamine. A light jog, workout, or even some yoga can make you feel so much better and ready to take on the day. 

Lastly, consider therapy. Human beings are not made to keep it all in, we are very social in nature. Talking with a professional can help provide insight and good coping. 

More recently, the use of light therapy is becoming more common. This can be done with the purchase of a ‘SAD lamp’. These are lamps that work to treat negative mood disorders. They range in price and size through a google search you can find the perfect fit for you. 

Get medicated! If all else fails, do not worry. Maybe you are simply more intensely affected by the winter blues. It is very common for people suffering from seasonal depression to get medicated during the season, or for those already mediated to increase their dosages for the season. This is a more serious alteration in your life, but can be worth it. Make sure to discuss all health concerns with your doctor and to find the appropriate antidepressants for your body. 

Remember you are loved. Your anxious thoughts are lying to you. You’ve survived all your worst days so far, and the sun will always come out tomorrow. 

Happy Holidays my friends. I wish you all a joyful break!

Hala Abdelrazek