Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. To understand more about SAD, refer back to our previous article here.
There are a variety of options available to help you combat the symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. You might find it helpful to try one or more of the following:
Light Therapy/ phototherapy
This is one of the first and most popular treatments for SAD. During light therapy, you sit a few feet from a special light box which mimics natural outdoor light. Over time, studies have shown that this treatment appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. It has been said that it generally starts working in a few days to a few weeks with minimal side effects. It is highly recommended to speak to a medical professional before purchasing a light box in order to determine what the best option for you might be.
Psychotherapy is another option to treat SAD. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) can help to work through negative thought patterns that may be making you feel worse. A psychotherapist can also help you find healthy ways to cope, to reduce avoidance behaviour, and to manage stress.
If symptoms are severe, some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant treatment. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor or psychiatrist about some options that would suit your needs, and to revisit this discussion pre-season each subsequent year. Your medical professional may or may not recommend you continue taking this medication past fall/winter. It will likely take several weeks for the medication to take effect, and for you to notice the full benefits. Should you decide it is not for you, or that you are feeling better at the end of the season, it is important to wean off the medication properly to minimize side effects.
Other Lifestyle Recommendations:
- Relaxation techniques: yoga and/or meditation
- Increase sun and light exposure: open window coverings; sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office
- Spend more time outdoors during the day
- Regular exercise: to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood
- Healthy diet: to increase good nutrients and blood flow to the brain, and reduce junk foods that cause lethargy
- Good sleep habits
- Stay connected and social with your support network
- Take Vitamin D due to less exposure to sunlight during these seasons
These recommendations have all been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression. If you have any questions or would like help with working to reduce symptoms of depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email firstname.lastname@example.org