Having a Sad Winter? It Could be Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you feel like the winter months always get you down and you are preparing for a sad winter? With the shorter days that winter brings and daylight savings time making the sun set faster, many people find that they experienced more intense depressive symptoms during this time of the year. But, this isn’t exactly normal or healthy. Experiencing severe depression symptoms can be a symptom of a depressive disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But, how can you know if this is something you are experiencing and what can you do about it? Identifying the symptoms of SAD in your life can help you understand if this is something you should seek help for. And, practicing some specific things in your life can help to reduce symptoms of SAD in your daily life.

What is SAD and is it Common?

If you feel that you get the blues more often than other people during the winter months, you’re not alone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 5% of adults living in the United States alone are diagnosed with SAD. So, it’s not uncommon that people to develop this type of depressive disorder. Even if you may not know other people who feel the same way as you do during the winter months, understanding that SAD is something that a lot of other people in the world live with can help you feel not so alone.

What Makes a Person at a Higher Risk for SAD?

The causes for the development of depressive disorders like SAD may be different from person to person. While there is no one cause for depression, things like genetics, family history of depression, and experiences can all be causes for the development of depressive disorders. Along with things that may cause depressive disorders like SAD, it can also be helpful to understand things that may put a person at a higher risk for developing SAD. Some of the things that can increase a person’s risk of having SAD include:

  • having other mental health issues
  • living in colder, darker environments
  • living in places that get cloudy/foggy
  • having concurring mood disorders

What’s it Like to Live With SAD?

If you’re having a sad winter, identifying if you’re living with the symptoms of SAD can help you better understand if this is something you should seek professional help for. Some of the signs and symptoms of SAD to look out for can include:

  • anxiety and high stress levels
  • being easily irritated
  • feelings of apathy toward things you’ve once enjoyed
  • avoidance behaviors
  • having difficulty staying focused
  • sleep issues (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much)
  • feelings of loneliness, despair, and sadness
  • suicidal thoughts, behaviors, or ideation
What Can I Do If I Think I Had SAD?

Fortunately, if you think you’re living with SAD, there are some things you can do in your daily life to help ease symptoms. Some of the things you can do to help ease the symptoms of SAD in your daily life can include:

Practicing Mindfulness: mindfulness is the act of remaining in the present moment rather than focusing on the past or future. Living in the past or future can evoke feelings of anxiety. But, practicing mindfulness can evoke feelings of gratitude for your life. There are things you can do to practice mindfulness including mindfulness meditation, being in nature, yoga, journaling, creating art, etc.

Exercising: Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and make the body release endorphins, which can help with mood management and reduce symptoms of depression for people living with SAD. So, get out and do something you like to move your body. Any form of exercise is fine, so even if you don’t like to run miles at a time, even taking a brisk walk every day is fine – as long as you keep your body moving.

Get Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for helping your brain manage moods. One of the greatest forms of Vitamin D comes from the sun. So, it can help people with SAD to get out in the sun for a while each day. If this isn’t something that’s possible, you can take Vitamin D supplements or even try a light box, which is an electrical device that emits Vitamin D.

Getting Help for SAD

If you find that you’re doing what you can on your own to manage symptoms of SAD but you aren’t feeling better, it may be time to get help. Fortunately, mental health treatment facilities like Delray Center for Healing can help. Find out more about our outpatient depression treatment services and learn about how we assist people living with depressive disorders like SAD on our website.