Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a disorder that causes changes in mood with the changing seasons. SAD is classified as a type of major depressive disorder that often gets worse in the fall and winter. Seasonal depression is often characterized by:
- Feelings of depression that happen most of the day, every day, in a seasonal pattern
- Having tiredness or low energy
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Changes in appetite or weight gain
- Sleeping too much
The coming colder months and reduced sunlight can negatively impact anyone’s health, regardless of a SAD diagnosis or treatment. With fall upon us and winter coming, here are a few things everyone can do to lessen the impacts of seasonal depression.
1. Soak up light
The lack of sun exposure is part of what causes SAD, so soaking up as much as you can may lessen symptoms. Modify your home and work environments as much as possible to let light in: open blinds, trim tree branches,, work as close to windows as possible. Incorporate simulation tools to help, like light therapy boxes and dawn simulators.
2. Get outside
Mental health professionals agree that outdoor activity can help manage SAD symptoms. Take a long walk or pick up a wintertime sport. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help, especially first thing in the morning.
3. Stay active
Research shows exercise and scheduling enjoyable activities can be effective ways to lessen the impact of SAD. Join a club, volunteer, take a community education class, whatever helps keep you connected and engaged. And start planning now!
4. Regulate sleep
Schedule reliable times to wake up and go to bed each day, and, especially for fall-winter-onset, avoid napping or oversleeping. Maintaining a regular schedule often improves sleep, which can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression.
5. Manage stress
Discover techniques for managing stress that work for you. That might be yoga or meditation, taking a walk or writing in a journal. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, overeating and other unhealthy habits and behaviors.
6. Be social
When you’re feeling the winter blues, it can be easy to isolate and avoid socializing with others. But socializing keeps you connected to the people who are important to you. People who can be a support for you.
7. Seek support
Pay attention to yourself and your feelings. Talking about symptoms, however severe, with a professional can help manage them. Whether that’s a support group or a therapist, don’t hesitate to find the support that best helps you manage your seasonal depression symptoms.
Need Help Treating Your Seasonal Depression?
If you feel like your symptoms are getting difficult to manage or are interfering with your daily life and routines, it may be time to get help. Reach out to your healthcare provider or mental health team. There’s nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. If you are looking for resources related to mental health, check out our resources page.
Guild Can Help
We understand that different things, like seasonal changes, can have an impact on your mental health. If you are seeking resources to prevent a mental health problem from escalating or to address your needs, call our Community Access team at 651-925-8490. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or an immediate mental health crisis, call 988.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Mayo Clinic.
Tips for Managing Seasonal Depression, Mass General Hospital.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: More than the winter blues, American Psychological Association.