As it gets colder and daylight hours start to decrease, many people experience symptoms resembling depression. For some, symptoms are relatively mild and brief, but for others they can be quite disabling. Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD) is a type of depression that lasts for a season, typically winter, and goes away for the rest of the year. Symptoms include sleep difficulty, excessive sleeping, loss of interest, pervasively sad mood, excessive craving/eating, weight gain, and thoughts of suicide. Here are 5 helpful tips to help:
Eat healthily. Get creative and look for low-calorie recipes that are easy to prepare rather than loading comfort foods with extra calories, sugar, and fat. For dessert, instead of cake and cookies, try making something from seasonal fruits like apples and pears.
Stay active. Rather than staying cooped up in your house all winter, get out and enjoy your community! Go for a walk, join a local club, volunteer, or go ice skating with your friends/loved ones.
Experience as much daylight as possible. Limited sun exposure is part of what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder and soaking up as much as you can may lessen your symptoms. Go out for a walk or sit by a window during daylight hours. You could also take up a winter sport to get you outside and keep you moving.
Spend time with your friends and family. This is a great way to avoid isolation and lift your spirits. Play board games with your family, snuggle with your kids or pets, or visit your friends and have a cup of hot tea. Friends and family can be good to talk to about how the season is affecting you. Take the time to educate them about Seasonal Affective Disorder so they can better understand your situation.
Seek professional help. A psychologist can help determine if someone has Seasonal Affective Disorder and the best way to treat it. Research shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment and may have more long-term benefits than light therapy (daily use of an artificial bright lamp) or antidepressant medications.
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