Don't Let Fall Get You Down: Understanding and Working Through Seasonal Affective Disorder
The summer is almost over. Pretty soon we’ll start to fill the chill in the air, and it’ll go from getting dark at what we consider late evening to late afternoon. Shorter days, less sun. Fall is upon us. Fall is a beautiful season, the green leaves transform to bright bold earth-tones of orange, brown, red, burgundy, and gold. Cozy sweaters, scenic views and of course Pumpkin-Spice everything! JSoon after, the cold days of winter arrive.
Fall and winter, for some brings about something different. Feelings of sadness, less light and more darkness that can send a person into a depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or Seasonal Depression typically begins in the Fall and continues through the Winter months. SAD also affects women more than men, but men at times have more severe symptoms than women.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression consist of the following:
* Feelings of depression
* Weight Loss
* Trouble Sleeping
* Decreased Appetite
* Irritability or Agitation
If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms during the fall-winter seasons, you may be experiencing Seasonal Depression. The cause of SAD isn’t officially confirmed, but it is said to be contributed to less sunlight that affects the bodies rhythm or biological clock. As well as the decrease in light contributing to a drop in levels of serotonin in the brain that help to regulate your mood. It is so important to address these feelings of depression and not let them linger or sit in these moments because it can definitely affect one trying to live their best life during these months.
What have you already tried during these months that help lift your spirits or decreases symptoms? There are likely some things you have already done that help during these times. If so, do more of that! I’m a big advocate of doing what works if safe and reasonable. There are more formal treatments to help decrease symptoms of SAD like using light therapy boxes. These are boxes that emit light that mimics sunshine. The light box is brighter than a regular lamp and when used consistently for about 30 minutes a day, throughout the fall and winter months decreases depressive symptoms and help boost your mood. You can find light boxes at retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond or Amazon. Of course, there are also medications you can inquire about with your primary care physician or psychiatrist that can help as well.
There are about 3 million cases of Seasonal Depression each year. Please get help and don’t suffer this winter if you recognize that you are experiencing similar symptoms. Reach out to a therapist, or your doctor, get help and have a better Fall and Winter. You deserve it!