Winter Blues Are Coming: Preparing for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Are you Worried About this Winter?

Are you worried about this winter? You are not alone. I have heard friends and clients say, “If you think it’s bad now, just wait until winter.” People anticipate the already heavy feelings they have to grow as the colder weather sets in, the sun recedes and we spend more time indoors.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that appears seasonally. Colloquially known as “winter blues,” the reason is a dip in serotonin, SAD typically comes on in the fall and winter, when the light is diminished.

SAD is believed to affect nearly 10 million Americans and is four times more common in women than men. Many people experience symptoms that are severe enough to affect their quality of life.

Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, sluggishness, insomnia, irritability, agitation, lack of appetite or overeating, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in activities.

How to Prepare for Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you suffer from SAD, here are some ways you can alleviate your symptoms:

Get Some Sun

Sun, especially morning light helps, but you might need to add another layer of light to your day. An easy way to give yourself relief is by using a lightbox. Lightboxes closely mimic the sun’s natural rays, helping our brains produce the right amount of neurotransmitters that are responsible for mood. I have one that I store in my basement most of the year, but at some point drag out and use in the morning while I eat breakfast. Sometimes as little as 15 minutes clears that heavy feeling away.

See People

If you are struggling with depression, you will likely feel a strong desire to withdraw from social interactions. This is the opposite of what you should be doing because it will only feed your depression. Set small goals to reach out or ask a family member to help you.

Seek Help

One of the most effective resources for depression is to reach out for help. You don’t have to wait to get help. Sometimes depression is too much to manage on your own. Counseling is an effective support to help you navigate depression and other things you are dealing with in your life right now. I’m here to help.