SAD Tips

          It’s that time of year again. Depression has hit for many people. Around this time of year, people begin to feel sadder, fatigued and drained of all motivation. This pattern of seasonal depression is otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (otherwise known as SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people in the United States and worldwide. It’s estimated to affect around 10 million Americans. While this pattern of depression only occurs during certain seasons, it is still very debilitating for the people suffering from it. A lot of people tend to think that this is just a case of the “winter blues” but it goes so much deeper than that. It causes many of the same symptoms of depression such as: lack of energy, increase or decrease in appetite, sleep disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia), and thoughts of suicide. The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown, but it’s believed that the amount of sunlight plays a role. The risk factors of someone experiencing seasonal depression is if someone has a family member that has depression, if the person suffers from Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder, and if they live in a place where sunlight is limited during the winter months. Dealing with seasonal depression can be difficult, but here are some tips to help you make it through the season:

1. Use Light Therapy

            One of the main treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder is the usage of a light box. The purpose of the light box is to imitate natural sunlight (since during the winter months, depending on your location, there doesn’t seem to be much). What you do is sit in front of the light box for 15-45 minutes each morning. Be careful not to look directly into the light. It emits 10,000 lux so it’s very bright! Before starting this treatment, make sure to talk to your doctor, especially if you are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This treatment can cause mania so make sure to speak with them first. But besides the possibility of mania, the side effects are very minimal: slight eye strain, headache, and nausea.

2. Exercise

            I know, I know. Everybody says that you should exercise when you’re depressed. It’s hard but it’s true. Exercise has helped me when I’m feeling down and I’m sure that it could help you too! When I say that you should exercise, that doesn’t mean that you must become a body builder. All you have to do is find a way to exercise that you would enjoy and do that! For me, it’s swimming. Being in the water is just an enjoyable experience to me.

3. Reach out to your support system

            This point is SO important! Depression lies to you and tell you that you are all alone and that nobody leaves you. This isn’t true! So many people love you and want to be there for you. Open up. It’s hard to but it’ll be so worth it.

4. Keep doing your hobbies

            When you’re depressed, one of the main symptoms is a loss of enjoyment in things that you love to do. So, you might love to write, and now you just don’t because you don’t enjoy it anymore. Keep doing your hobbies even when you’re depressed! It’s important to do the things that you love even when you don’t feel like doing it.

5. Take care of your hygiene

            When depressed, one of the first things that tend to fall to the wayside is your personal hygiene. It becomes too easy, when you’re depressed, to stop brushing your teeth and showering. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself when depressed. Even if you feel like you can’t shower, one suggestion would be to take a wet cloth and wipe yourself down. And if you can’t brush your teeth, put mouthwash in a spray bottle and spritz it into your mouth. But if you can’t even do that, don’t beat yourself up. You’re trying your hardest!

6. Treat yourself with kindness

            It’s easy to beat yourself up over everything when you’re depressed. But you need to be kind to yourself. Think of it like this: would you treat your best friend like this if they were depressed? If you wouldn’t, then don’t do yourself like that. Realize that the depression is not your fault. Keep in mind that seasonal depression won’t last forever. Take care of yourself and it’ll be over soon enough!