Some people call feelings of sadness that crop during the cold months as the “winter blues.” You may experience those feelings around holidays or because there is less light during the day. You may find yourself feeling bored and restless. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition that produces feelings like that of traditional depression. It usually sets in during late autumn and dissipates in the spring. Finding ways to stay positive during winter can be crucial for your mental health and Compass Detox can help.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that often sets in during the winter. Some researchers believe that SAD affects your mental health because of hormonal changes set in during specific times of the year, like winter.
Other theories include the idea that a lack of sunlight during winter triggers SAD. Sunlight encourages the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps your brain regulate mood. Disruptions to those functions can cause feelings of sadness and discontent.
Many people start experiencing seasonal affective disorder as teenagers. It affects everyone differently, though women can be more sensitive to the effects of SAD. One person may only have mild symptoms, while others get to a point where they cannot function.
Symptoms of SAD often resemble those of clinical depression and can include:
- Having no energy to accomplish tasks
- Not wanting to engage in social interactions
- Being unable to focus on tasks
- Sleeping a lot
- Eating more to offset your feelings
Treatment for Seasonal Depression
You should consult with a mental health specialist if you suspect that you have seasonal affective disorder. Once they make a formal diagnosis, your doctor can recommend treatments beneficial to your mental health. They will likely ask questions about your medical and family history. You should disclose whether there is a history of problems with mental health in your family. There may be a genetic factor at play when it comes to your seasonal affective disorder.
Light therapy is often recommended to treat SAD in places where there is not much sunlight during the winter. The procedure typically involves the doctor administering light treatment in 10-to-15-minute segments. Your doctor may want to increase the length of your sessions if you have a positive response to light therapy.
You may also benefit from taking an anti-depressant to treat your condition. A combination of medication and light therapy can provide you with relief from your SAD symptoms.
How You Can Stay Positive During the Winter Months
Seasonal affective disorder isn’t something that goes away through willpower. While it’s best to seek advice from a doctor experienced in treating mental health disorders, there are things you can do to improve your mood. Try utilizing the following tips to help you remain positive during the winter:
- Go outside — Try to get as much natural sunlight during the day as possible, weather allowing. Go on a walk whenever you see the sun shining to help yourself feel better. If walking isn’t possible, try sitting outside with your favorite warm beverage and enjoy your surroundings.
- Get regular exercise — Exercise is another way of naturally boosting your serotonin levels and improving your mood. Try taking part in a fitness challenge or finding an online video channel that offers free workouts.
- Spend time with loved ones — Connecting with people in your life you care about can keep you positive and improve your mental health. Don’t be afraid to have virtual coffee with a work colleague or call a relative you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
Encourage Positivity In Your Life
Finding ways to be happy without relying on substance abuse can improve your overall mental health. If you need support freeing yourself from the throes of addiction, Compass Detox can help.