Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that happens at the same time every year. Most people suffer from seasonal depression during winter because of its gloomy climate. This condition may be a butt of a joke for some people but when experienced, this can cause sleep deprivation, loss appetite, and low energy levels among other symptoms.
Some people experience seasonal depression and feel like a different person during summer but most people have this during the ber months up until early January.
Some symptoms of seasonal depression include:
- Serious changes in mood
- Easily irritated
- Feelings of worthlessness towards self
- Loss of interest
- Abnormal sleeping pattern, either insomnia or oversleeping
- Suicidal thoughts
The dangerous thing about seasonal depression is that anyone can affect it and you can’t truly tell if one of your family and friends has it unless they show obvious signs. If your family has the history of depression or bipolar disorder, you are more likely to have seasonal depression.
If you or a person you know suffers from seasonal depression, there are things that can be done overcome this condition. Here are some ideas you can do.
Get more sunlight
One of the reasons why people have seasonal depression is because of the weather. The cold of December can really get into your head and there is nothing wrong with that. The reduced sunlight during the winter season can also lower your body’s serotonin production. Serotonin helps you to be on a normal mood.
On the other hand, the long nights and short days of winter can produce your brain more melatonin which makes you more tired and lethargic frequently. What you can do to resolve this problem is through getting thirty minutes to one hour of sunlight every morning. Having adequate sunlight is also beneficial for your skin.
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Getting enough sunlight can make your brain produce the right chemicals. And while you’re at it, you should also exercise as it can also fight seasonal depression. One of the things you have to fight during these times is lethargy and laziness. Even the slightest of physical activities like walking your dog can help in fighting these urges.
But if you want a more vigorous exercise, you can try running, weightlifting, sports, or other exercises where you move your arms and legs. Exercise does not only keep your body warm, it is also a great way to meet other people. People even use exercise to overcome major depressive disorders so for sure, it’ll work on people suffering from SAD.
Have more interactions
More social interactions can help prevent seasonal depression, especially when you’re feeling love and appreciated. Even if you don’t feel like it, you can slowly participate in social gatherings and be around with more people. You can ask your friends for coffee, meet with new people, or join a support group for those having depression.
However, social interactions can also be a reason why you’re depressed. If you have toxic relationships and are talking to people which makes you feel down, the best thing to do is cut them off. Yes, they can be your relative but if they affect your mental health and you can’t see them changing despite telling them their issues, it’s better to leave them.
Avoid drinking alcohol
Alcohol is one of the go-to coping mechanisms of people suffering from both seasonal and clinical depression. Many people tend to drink with friends just to ease the pain they’re feeling inside while others drink alone in sorrow. However, alcohol as a coping mechanism is not only unhealthy for the liver. It can make you more depressed.
Binge drinking alcohol can further lead to a downward spiral and eventually, addiction. The best alternative you can have to drinking alcohol is having a balanced diet. A balanced diet may not alleviate your seasonal depression, but it helps you have the right energy so you can do the things that do.
Keeping a journal
Keeping a diary or a journal and writing your thoughts can help in keeping your mood up. If you don’t have someone to talk to, you can always get a notebook, write your thoughts, and express your feelings there. A journal is like that friend who you can tell stories without the fear of judgement or them interfering when you are talking.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, journaling can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression. You can also easily find what triggers your seasonal depression because you can read your past entries. When writing in a journal, do not forget to write positive affirmations for you as well.
Seek medical help
Even though your depression is only seasonal, there is nothing wrong with going to a psychotherapist and reaching out for help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help in curbing your negative thoughts and managing the symptoms of seasonal depression using healthy ways. This method has no side effects.
On the other hand, your therapist might prescribe you with antidepressants if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy doesn’t work. Most antidepressants give your brain the serotonin that your brain needs. Whatever treatment you are on, it is important to do the steps above as well to overcome seasonal depression during the winter.
How can you help someone with seasonal depression?
If you feel that someone is suffering from seasonal depression, the best way to help them is to reach out your hand and offer some quality time with them. Another way of helping them is by asking them questions about them and just listening. That way, they can express themselves openly.
Some people may say that seasonal depression is something that should not be addressed because it’s short-term but this mindset should change. An individual’s mental health is as important as physical health. People’s mental health should matter in their homes.
As people, the best thing that we can do to stop people from hiding their seasonal depression and mental illnesses is by not stigmatizing these problems. The Philippines still has a long way to go in addressing mental health problems but by being more considerate on what people are going though, each and every one can contribute a step along the way.
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