Screw SAD

Winter: Icy windshields, sky-high rubber rainboots, umbrellas, darker days, ominous mental health disorder, oversized rain jack- …hold onwhat did you just say? Oversized rain jackets? Um, no – the one before that. Oh, the mental health disorder? Have you never heard of SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that many people refer to as climbing the walls, winter depression, or winter blues. Its ingenious acronym provides a perfectly clear understanding of how it affects certain individuals ─ it makes them SAD. During specific times every year, most commonly the rainy, cold seasons, people with otherwise normal mental health feel depression-like symptoms that last until a new season begins. SAD is a serious problem that affects millions of people, but many people have absolutely no idea they have it. If you have ever felt anything similar to this, I urge you to seek a healthcare professional and give yourself the best chance for success.

FYI: If you or someone you know are suffering from this disorder, please visit the links at the bottom of this article that offer resources. This discussion is by no means a diagnosis, but simply a discussion to bring more awareness to this mental health disorder.

Before I sought out medical advice, I was experiencing low moods, severe mood swings, loss of interest in things I usually enjoyed, eating more than usual, lethargic energy levels, inconsistent sleep schedules, and alarming thoughts. Initially, I figured I was just PMS-ing or being dramatic, but after a few weeks of a total shift in my mental state, I realized I needed to get help.

Depression is not something to be taken lightly, so please do not wait as long as I did. SAD is no less serious than any other kinds of depression and it needs to be dealt with just as critically. If I can offer any advice, it would be the following three things:

GET LIGHT

Light not only helps the human body produce serotonin, which is a hormone that influences mood, it also reduces the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that causes drowsiness. Obviously, natural light is best, so try to get outside and go on a nice walk if you are able to. Keeping your living environment and workspace brightly lit and open is also extremely helpful for fighting your SAD feelings. If you are finding it difficult to get enough natural light, Light Therapy is definitely something you should look into. After only a few days of treatment, many people report an alleviation of symptoms and start to feel more like themselves again.

GET VITAMIN D

Vitamin D is naturally created by our bodies, but when sun exposure is low, a lot less is made. Studies about Vitamin D have shown that roughly half of the world’s population suffers from a deficiency of it ─ making me wonder just how many people also suffer from SAD. People have reported feeling less depressed after soaking in some sunlight, so get outside and start tanning. Please do not forget to lather on sunscreen! If you cannot get enough sunlight during the winter months, highly consider picking up some supplements the next time you are grocery shopping.

GET OUT OF HERE

Last but not least, my personal favorite is packing up a suitcase and getting out of town. If you ever have the chance, take a winter holiday to a sunny destination, especially if you feel SAD symptoms creeping up on you. Even if it just a day trip to the beach and back, it will make you feel so much better! I find that this method works best for me, so I try to get out of town as much as possible. In fact, I make sure that I never have classes on Fridays that way I can have a three-day trip every weekend!

I hope that this article was helpful to anyone with undiagnosed SAD and to the individuals trying to fight away the demons that SAD brings. Above all else, please remember to seek medical care immediately if you feel depression taking over your mental stability.

 

Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Depression Hotline

CONTACT Helpline: Emotional Listening Support