4 Ways to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

When someone says “I have SAD,” they aren’t just using grammatically incorrect terms for their feelings. Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to as SAD, affects approximately 10 million Americans. Though women are 4 times more likely to develop SAD than men, anyone — even children — can develop this common form of depression. If you can’t seem to shake the seasonal blues, try the four coping tips below.

Millions of Americans suffer from symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, often referred to as SAD. This condition often occurs in fall, when the decreased sunlight disrupts your circadian rhythm, and may continue throughout the winter months. While there is no cure for SAD, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle changes like the ones below.

Don’t Let SAD Symptoms Become Unbearable. 

Up Your Vitamin D Intake

Many of us credit the sun for our golden skin or shimmering highlights, but UV rays from this glowing star also supply us with vitamin D. This essential nutrient helps stabilize our moods; when we’re deficient, we may become moody or anxious. In fact, a vitamin D deficiency can even trigger episodes of depression, seasonal or otherwise.

Be careful, though, as vitamin D is not for everyone. You should avoid supplementing your diet with vitamin D if you have kidney stones or lymphoma. Talk to your doctor if you take prescription medications for high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, as these may interact with vitamin D supplements. If your doctor says it’s okay for you to take this vitamin, the Vitamin D Council recommends limiting your dosage to 10,000 IU per day.

Consider Light Therapy

Sunlight is often scarce during fall and winter, so some SAD patients experiment with light therapy. With light therapy, patients sit in fit of a light box for approximately a half hour per day. These light boxes boast an output of 10,000 lux, which is 100 times brighter than many other indoor lights.

For some people, light therapy works just as well as antidepressants. Others may find the bright lights irritating or dislike sitting in one spot for half an hour. Also, you should avoid light therapy if you have bipolar disorder, as it may cause a manic episode. People with eye conditions, including retinal damage due to diabetes, should discuss the option with their doctors before trying light therapy.

Talk About Your Feelings

When SAD symptoms strike, you may feel depressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. Hardly a recipe for social success, right? Yes, but it’s important to keep up with your regular routine if you have SAD, even if you find yourself wanting to be alone.

You may find that talking to someone about your feelings, whether it’s your best friend or a licensed therapist, helps alleviate some of your depression. In fact, talk therapy with a mental health professional is actually one of several recommended treatments for SAD.

Consider Medication

Sometimes symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder resolve with lifestyle changes or therapy, but those actions aren’t always enough. If you feel your symptoms aren’t improving, talk to your doctor about prescription medication for SAD. You may find that taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, such as Prozac or Zoloft, makes it easier to manage your symptoms.

Winter is a great time to explore new hobbies or participate in cold-weather sports, such as skiing or ice skating. Unfortunately, it can also trigger episodes of seasonal depression. Let your medical providers know if home remedies don’t alleviate SAD symptoms, as they may have other ideas on how you can manage your condition. You don’t have to suffer through sadness and fatigue until warm weather returns.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!

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