Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Here we are again at that time of year where the sun goes down and the street lights come on earlier than they had been a couple weeks before. For some this signifies something exciting; the beginning of fall, beginning of the holiday season, and etc. For other this signifies something stressful; Seasonal Depression. For those of you new to the term and phenomenon, Seasonal Depression is a term used to describe the increase of negative emotions or feelings directly relating to the decrease in sunshine, decrease in temperatures, decrease in events and activities, and for some ultimately decreased social interaction. With most of the world still experiencing travel restrictions, high cases, and other daunting effects of COVID for a second Holiday Season in a row, that puts more of at risk for its development.
If you're wondering "well how would I know if i'm experiencing Seasonal Depression?" here are some symptoms according to the National Institute of Mental Health (*Symptoms must onset during the seasonal change):
Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Experiencing changes in appetite or weight (i.e. Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates)
Having problems with sleep (i.e over sleeping)
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having low energy
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Having difficulty concentrating
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
How can I combat Seasonal Depression?
As with regular depression, therapy for the Seasonal Depression can be very transformative and effective for those experiencing it. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a common treatment intervention used in mental health treatment can help you challenge your negative thought patterns in order to improve your feelings and change your behavior.
2. Maintain Social Interaction and Physical Activity
A common trigger for Seasonal Depression is the decreased ability to socialize and participate in physical activity which can lead to feelings of loneliness, boredom, and sadness. While Seasonal Depression may create barriers to meeting up with friends or continuing your regular gym routine it is important to keep these a priority. A couple ways you can do that is by getting creative and finding alternatives such as virtual meet ups, watch parties, capitalizing on the good weather days, at home workout plans, garage workout plans, and etc.
3. Vitamin D Supplements
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, often people who experience SAD have Vitamin D deficiency. Making nutritional supplements of Vitamin D a potential solution to improving their symptoms.
4. Traditional Anti-Depressant Medications
Seasonal Depression is similar to other types of depression as is it also suspected to derive from disturbances in serotonin activity in the brain. Antidepressant medications often referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be used to help restore serotonin levels.
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