As the days continue to get shorter and colder, and the holidays get closer, millions of Americans just won’t feel like themselves.
If you’re experiencing hopelessness, having trouble sleeping or difficulty concentrating, you may be suffering symptoms of depression. And depression, which 350 million people across the world suffer from, can have tragic outcomes.
If you’re feeling blue just during the fall/ winter months, you could be suffering from a seasonal depression that is just as concerning.
Seasonal Affective Disoder is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. It’s not considered as a separate disorder. It is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern.
To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific season for at least 2 years.
It’s best if we first consider the symptoms of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleep
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
People suffering from winter SAD can see also see the following symptoms:
- Having low energy
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
As with any other health issue, mental or physical, you should consult your physician if you or a loved one is battling any of these symptoms.
Four major types of treatment for SAD include: medication, light therapy, psychotherapy and Vitamin D therapy. These may be used alone or in combination.
Here are 8 ways you can take matters into your own hands to battle the winter blues, from Real Simple magazine:
1. Make your environment brighter.
2. Eat smarter.
3. Simulate dawn.
5. Turn on the tunes.
6. Plan a vacation.
7. Help others.
8. Get outside.