Daylight Savings Time has come and gone while providing a reminder that our days are going to continue getting shorter and colder. Winter brings holidays, a certain chill in the air, decorations, time with family, and more time spent indoors. For some, the winter can bring feelings of sadness, low energy, increased isolation, and changes to otherwise stable routines. These feelings or changes could possibly indicate a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
As the seasons change, things like time, weather, and even light play a factor in our behavioral health. SAD is more complex than just “the winter blues”. Many experience challenges completing their daily routine, mood changes, and other symptoms similar to depression. If left unchecked, symptoms can escalate risking more severe symptoms. Differentiating between SAD and normal responses to life changes is crucial. Self-awareness is beneficial in recognizing atypical functioning. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), here are a few symptoms associated with SAD:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
- Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable to others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If these symptoms impact your daily functioning and occur frequently, it is imperative you consider completing a screening or consulting with a trained professional.
In addition to speaking with a trained professional, here are a few homeopathic remedies provided by Everyday health, which may be helpful:
- Heat lamps to mirror sunlight exposure
- Oils and aromatherapy
- Maintain a daily schedule
- Journal to process daily feelings
- Increase Vitamin D, Omega-3, and Melatonin
- Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness
It is important to act quickly to repair your mental wellness when symptoms of SAD are recognized. Spend time building in protective factors, identifying strong social supports, and discovering local resources that may be helpful in support yourself or someone else.
Realize you are not alone and there are options. Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 support for those in any type of crisis. If you text, “HOME” to 741741 from anywhere in the United States you will be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Several crisis centers are available throughout Philadelphia, suicide and crisis prevention resources, and free online behavioral health screenings are also available if you feel unsure about your symptoms.
Note: SAD does not only occur during the winter months, and can also occur during spring and summer months.