Have you experienced changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, low energy, and difficulty concentrating? How about feeling sad or not like your usual self? Do you notice feeling a bit down as the fall/winter arrives and days get shorter? If so, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (also know as “the winter blues”). and it’s more common than you may think.
What is SAD?
SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a form of seasonal depression most apparent by changes in your mood and behavior when the seasons change. For most cases of SAD, symptoms begin in late fall or early winter and go away in spring and summer. This is referred to as winter-pattern SAD. Some experience depressive episodes in the spring and summer called summer-pattern SAD.
One important thing to remember is that it is more common than you think.
Who gets SAD?
It is estimated to affect 10 million people yearly. SAD occurs more often in women than men, and more often in people who live further north of the equator.
Amongst these millions, many may experience the symptoms, but not know they have it.
What can I do if I am experiencing symptoms of SAD?
If you experience symptoms, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider and/or mental health counselor. If you are comfortable confiding in family and friends, reach out for support there in addition to your providers.
How is SAD typically treated?
Treatment for SAD usually consists of (stand alone or combination) light therapy, vitamin D, talk therapy, and antidepressants.
What can I do to prepare?
Here are my best tips and tricks. I’ve applied these techniques and used them as my own personal SAD survival guide.
In no particular order… **drumroll please **
- Self-compassion: Be kind and patient with yourself. The changes can feel heavy, so it is important to be as gentle, nurturing, and as good to yourself as you can.
- Plenty of rest: Honor your body. Make sure you get a full night’s rest to help override the symptoms of restlessness
- Essential oils: Add some eucalyptus and/or lavender essential oil to your routine. I love to use a few drops in the shower and in my humidifier.
- Vitamins B12 and D: Great for energy and immunity (consult your health care provider before use/interactions)
- Exercise: Any amount you can do will be good for the mind and body. Exercise produces endorphins to help lift your vibes and will also relax you. You can do a 30-minute workout if you feel up to it, or even a walk.
- Meditation: Five to 10 minutes a day of meditation will help relieve some of your symptoms including difficulty concentrating and blues. Meditation increases focus, relaxation, and energy.
- Light therapy box: These are a game changer. You can use it for 30 minutes a day for relief of symptoms. These lamps stimulate the sun which provides vitamin D and raises serotonin levels. It’s great to do while sipping morning coffee or tea and has been super helpful.
- Talk therapy: Schedule regular visits with your mental health provider.
About the Author: Kameren McFadden is a meditation, mindfulness, and personal growth engagement enthusiast.