Do you feel less productive during the winter? Are you less social and more tired? Do you tend to feel more depressed? For many people, this can be an indication of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is generally a low-level of depression that is dependent on the seasons. Symptoms include fatigue, withdrawing from social activities, lack of interest, cravings for food with more carbohydrates, and weight gain.
Most people who suffer from SAD experience a “slump” from about October to May. Doctors generally agree that SAD is caused by shorter days and longer nights; studies that show that those living in Canada and Alaska tend to be more affected confirm those beliefs. If you feel an unexplained low-level depression at the onset of winter, you might want to try a few techniques at home to brighten your mood, especially if you work indoors. (If you are feeling depression severe enough to be disruptive, please consult a doctor or medical health professional.)
- When you are at home or work, place yourself next to a window. If you aren’t able to or if it’s dark outside as well, try a bright lamp. Many doctors treat patients of SAD with “light therapy,” meaning that they expose patients to more light.
- If you are unable to work in a lighted place, try exposing yourself to a bright lamp for 30 minutes each morning and night.
- Go outside more. Take walks or visit the park.
- Exercise more. Working out can actually help you feel more awake during the day, and sleep better at night. It can also be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
- Increase your social support. Having friends and family around can lessen a dark mood. You may not feel like being social or going out at first, but you might find that pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone beneficial. Just don’t push yourself too much.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Eating fatty or greasy foods can make you feel heavy and bloated, which will only aggravate your feelings of depression. Certain foods can have the opposite affect – they can make you more productive and alert.
- Develop a hobby. Having a goal to work towards and achievements you can accomplish will distract you from nagging worries and boost your self-esteem.
For some people, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be disruptive enough to their lifestyle that they will need to seek professional treatment. For others, it can so mild that your regular schedule is more difficult, and home treatments may be adequate. If you’re just in a slump, try some of the above methods.
Have you tried any home or office remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder? Tell us all about it in the comments!
“Seasonal Affective Disorder.” http://www.psychiatry.org/seasonal-affective-disorder. (16 Sept. 2013).
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies. (16 Sept. 2013).