4 Ways to Tackle Seasonal Depression
November 1st marks the end of Daylight Savings Time. While this means that we gain an extra hour of sleep, it also means we lose an extra hour of sunlight. Sixty minutes may seem like a short period of time, but the amount of daylight a person experiences can majorly impact their mental health.
According to Psychology Today, more than 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a series of depressive episodes that occur during the colder months. Although SAD can be triggered at any time of the year, it primarily takes place during late fall and through the end of winter. Its symptoms usually range from fatigue to increased appetite to lack of concentration.
Here are five ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Let There Be Light
Lack of sunlight plays a major role in developing Seasonal Affective Disorder. When Daylight Savings Time ends, the days become shorter and the sun sets at an earlier time. By the time the typical worker ends their shift at 5 pm, it is already dark outside. The lack of sun exposure can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency, which also contributes to SAD.
Taking Vitamin D pills daily and spending at least two hours outside can help combat SAD. If you're inside, keep your curtains open and let the sun in. You can also invest in a light therapy lamp (10,000 LUX is recommended).
Watch What You Eat
SAD can affect your appetite and increase your craving for foods that aren't the best for you. Fast food can tire you out faster and make you feel sluggish, so aim for more fruits and veggies in your diet.
Establish A Stable Sleep Schedule
People with SAD typically struggle with falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning. This can increase their feeling of fatigue and affect their concentration throughout the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping seven to eight hours a day.
Disconnect from all electronic devices an hour to half an hour before you go to bed. Drinking tea, journaling or meditating can help ease your bedtime anxiety. And don't worry, that text from your friend or that new episode of The Bachelorette can wait. Log off and get some shut-eye.
Speak to a Professional
It's good to talk your feelings out, whether it's journaling in a notebook or speaking to a confidant. However, if you feel as though your depression is worsening and you don't know what to do, reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide the right resources and help you establish healthy coping mechanisms during this time.
If you are dealing with frequent thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. This lifeline offers 24/7 support in English, Spanish and French. You are not alone.
SAD can be frustrating to deal with, but with a few lifestyle changes we can work through it and heal during the colder months. You've got this.