Five Strategies for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder does not need to be an annual tradition as winter approaches. There are effective strategies for managing and even heading off SAD.

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

Each year, like clockwork, depression can set in as the days get shorter and the weather turns colder. Instead of jumping out of bed ready to greet the day, many people want to crawl under the covers and wait for spring.

More than just “the winter blues” or “cabin fever,” Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a serious form of depression that can impact a person’s health, productivity and relationships.

While scientists aren’t clear what exactly causes SAD, seasonal and geographic patterns suggest the disorder is linked to diminishing daylight. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock, reduce levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin), and disrupt hormones that govern sleep patterns and mood.

The good news: You don’t have to suffer in silence. Treatments for SAD are remarkably effective, and if you take preventive measures before the season hits, you may be able to stave off the blues altogether.

Five strategies to manage seasonal blues

Lighten up

Light therapy, delivered by a device that contains white fluorescent light tubes covered by a plastic screen to block the UV rays, may help to treat SAD. Aim for two to three 15 minute sessions each day.

Exercise outside

Fresh air can help to make you feel better and exercise releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine.

Use mind/body therapies

Meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing all help to improve the quality of thoughts and feelings.

Shift your thinking

When you are feeling down, combat those biological symptoms by doing something social or trying a new activity or hobby.

Seek help

If SAD symptoms are severe and impacting your ability to go about your day, your doctor may consider prescribing an antidepressant to help you through the gray months.

Questions

Who could you talk to for support if you feel SAD symptoms creeping up on you? Which SAD management strategy sounds like a good fit for you or for a loved one? Please share in the comment below.

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