Do You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Do you notice that you start to feel a little blue or glum when the weather gets cold and the time changes? Maybe you notice feeling depressed, a loss of motivation, sleeping a little more, changes in appetite and mood. If these are symptoms that you notice every fall, then you could have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder that is winter onset normally starts in the fall when the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, and can affect people who have don’t have any other symptoms of depression; although SAD is more common among people who have depression or bipolar disorder.
So what can you do if you think you might have SAD? If you are already being treated for depression or bipolar disorder, then I would reach out to your treatment provider if you are having increased symptoms of depression. Your therapist or psychiatrist should be able to adjust your treatment plan of medications and/or therapy in order to treat the increase in depression symptoms. If you are having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately to be evaluated.
If you’ve never been diagnosed with depression or bipolar, but you notice the symptoms of SAD every year at the same time, here are some things you can try:
Light box therapy
Light box therapy can be extremely helpful in treating SAD because it gives the body exactly what it needs, more light that mimics sunlight. You can find reasonably priced light boxes on Amazon.
See a therapist
Seeing a therapist who uses cognitive behavioral therapy can be very useful in helping you challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to the depression, as well as helping you identify healthy behaviors that will increase levels of dopamine, which help you feel better.
Sometimes the symptoms of depression are severe enough that they are preventing you from taking other healthy steps, such as exercise and socializing. If this is the case, then medication may be a good option to help you feel better enough so that you can implement some healthy behaviors. Schedule an appointment with your PCP, and they can go over medication choices. And again, if you are having suicidal thoughts, go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
I hope this post is helpful in sharing some treatment options for seasonal affective disorder. Stay well and healthy and reach out anytime!