The weather is changing and while some of you are celebrating the break in the heat, others may be feeling under the weather. Winter is a darker season with more cloud cover and colder temperatures but you may notice your mood dropping this winter without any reason behind it.
If you're dreading the season change and don't know why, you might need to look into Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. (Appropriate name, right?) If you've never heard of it or if you're wondering why your depressed moods don't seem to stay all year round, check out the rest of this article to learn more.
What are the Causes?
Unfortunately, more research is needed to know exactly why the seasons affect human behavior. Whether it's the colder temperatures, the lower amount of sunlight or something entirely different, we can't be sure.
What's more, SAD can happen to people in the summer. It's much more rare but not unique. So if you're feeling SAD, you're not alone. (Oh come on, you knew that joke was coming.)
Who is Affected?
show people over 35 living in more northern regions were more likely to have winter SAD while those affected with summer SAD had no location correlation. However, SAD has been documented
at nearly all locations for various ethnicities and even for children. It affects not just mood but psychiatric illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia as well.
Because Season Affective Disorder can affect people differently, the symptoms can be vast. For most people, SAD mimics that of regular depression of anxiety including:
Lack or change of appetiteMood swingsSadnessLonelinessLoss of interestChange of sleep patternsWeight change
For others, it could affect other symptoms. For example, if you are prone to an eating disorder, the urges may surge or be stronger with SAD than at other times.
What to Do About It
The good news is that once identified, you can start to combat SAD by being more aware of what's happening around and inside you. While mood disorders like depression and anxiety are very difficult to deal with on your own, knowing a cause will help you be better prepared for coping. Try these tips this winter:
have found positive results with increased vitamin D intake to treat SAD symptoms.
St. John's Wort
- This herb is a favorite for treating mood and depression symptoms. We explain why in this article
. Stocking up for the season may help you beat those winter blues.
- These herbal supplements are designed to lift your mood and give you a sunny disposition. Likewise, calm
those racing thoughts that may be associated with holiday pressures.
- Keep up with your vitamin C and multivitamins to make sure you won't get sick. Nothing takes the smile off your face like a bad flu or cold. Try echinacea
all winter to fend off germs before they get you.
Light It Up
Light Therapy is by far the most widely successful treatment
for SAD symptoms. This is performed by sitting in front of a bright light for a short period of time every day and you can see the positive effects in as little as a week. Lights are designed specially for SAD to mimic sunlight to trigger the stuff in your brain that makes you happy. It's like having the sun on your desk.
What to look for:10,000 lux of light exposureLittle to no UV light emitted
How to use it:First thing in the morning20-30 minutes16-24 inches away from faceEyes open but not looking directly into light
You can use your light while you get ready in the morning shaving, applying make-up, checking e-mail or just drinking coffee as you wake up. The light should help you feel awake more quickly as well so it's a great way to help you get out of bed.
You can also use it in the middle of the day or in the evening if you feel your symptoms flair. Just don't use it too close to bedtime as it will throw off your natural melatonin production
and could make it harder to sleep.
Ask your doctor about all of the above suggestions before trying any new supplements or treatments especially if you're taking medications or are pregnant. SAD can be just as serious as a long-term disorder and disrupt your life and it's important to be safe.
If you're feeling hopeless or having intense thoughts, please seek medical or professional help right away.
Are you excited for winter or dreading the season change? Tell us your favorite time of the year on our Facebook
pages and tune in next weeks for more healthy tips!