Changing Seasons, Changing Emotions: How to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder this Year

Fall is in full swing and in Philly — the air is getting colder and windier, the leaves are changing and the days are slowly getting shorter. As it progressively gets colder and darker, many people will start to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD affects millions, specifically young women, leaving them depressed, fatigued and even socially withdrawn during the winter months. BUT, I have found through trial and error that there are a few ways to make sure SAD isn’t getting you quite so down this fall and winter. Here they are:

 

  1. 1. Take vitamin D

    Vitamin D is critical if you’re feeling the effects of SAD because often the disorder is a result of a lack of vitamin D and light, given the limited sunlight in the colder months. One of the best ways to deal with the effects is to begin taking a vitamin D supplement or consume foods higher in vitamin D. Such foods include egg yolks, mushrooms and seafood like salmon and shrimp.

  2. 2. Get as much natural light as you can

    With the weather getting colder, it’s easy to try and find excuses to go outside as little as possible. But as previously mentioned, exposure to light is also a very important component in treating SAD. As hard as it might be sometimes, try to go outside for around 20-30 minutes during daylight. If you find this doesn’t work for you, it is possible to buy a light therapy lamp, which is a 10,000 lux light (much stronger than an average lightbulb). The amount of time you have to sit with these lights may vary.

  3. 3. Exercise!

    Staying active is a good habit to start in general, but is an especially good habit around the colder months. You’ve probably heard this before but exercising regularly can boost endorphins and serotonin, two of your body’s feel-good chemicals.  Even if it’s just going for a walk outside (which could also help you be exposed to more light —- double win), staying active will both help your body and your mind, especially during the winter.

  4. 4. Reach out to your friends

    It can be easy to be less social in the winter, but if you’re suffering from SAD, isolation can only strengthen the symptoms. So, make the effort to see friends regularly, or even just reach out to them regularly. It’s important to surround yourself with people you trust and allow them to help you. Make sure you build yourself a support system (because we all need a support system, Seasonal Affective Disorder or not). 

Winter, in general, can be a tougher time of year for various reasons, but hopefully you find these tips helpful in making that time a bit easier.  Feeling like you’re in a lower state is totally normal and common during these colder, darker months. Never be afraid to turn to others when you need help — seriously, we all need some extra support sometimes.