Does Winter Get You Down? Getting Answers about Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)

Did you know that exposure to sunlight can actually affect your mood? It’s a physiological fact. But getting enough sunlight during the darker winter months can be a challenge for some people. Not everyone is affected as others, but if you or someone you know consistently feels down or finds it harder to maintain their normal optimistic mood during winter months, they may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is usually a milder form of depression that is temporary – resolving itself as the weather changes. But, as with any form of depression, it can affect so many aspects of a person’s life. You don’t have to just suffer through if you are experiencing SAD symptoms. If you are curious about SAD and would like to know more, we will answer three common questions about SAD for you in today’s blog.

#1) What does it feel like?
SAD is similar to other types of depression in that it leads to a lack of motivation, feelings of sadness, lack of energy, etc. People experiencing SAD may feel like sleeping all the time, they may have changes in their appetite where they just want to eat even if they aren’t hungry and especially carbs. Sometimes people find it difficult to focus, stay motivated, or make decisions. In extreme situation there may be thoughts of death or suicide.

#2) How is it treated?
One of the simplest ways to start when it comes to treating SAD is to just get more sunlight. Ideally your body should have 20 minutes of exposure to the sun every day. If that’s not possible, it is a good idea to intentionally sit near the window when you are working indoors. If that’s not enough, you might ask your mental health therapist in mid Missouri about light therapy. Light therapy involves the use of what is called a light therapy box that you are able to plug in and use indoors to produce light to replicate what you would get from spending time outside. There are also types of talk therapy that can help with SAD, as well. The main thing is to reach out to a professional to get a proper diagnosis and direction on what is the best treatment for you.

#3) What can I do for myself?
When you are experiencing feelings of depression of any kind, it’s important not to isolate yourself. Reach out to someone you trust to share how you’re feeling so you can receive encouragement and know you are not alone. Try to take care of yourself as best as possible by eating healthy meals, getting exercise regularly, avoiding drugs and alcohol, etc. Be kind to yourself when it comes to setting goals, and don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. Try to be more self-aware and notice when things make you feel a little better and do those things more. Sometimes it’s as simple as spending time helping someone else, doing a hobby or activity you enjoy, going out for coffee with friends, etc. Whatever works for you, try to make it a point to do that more often.

Beat the Winter Blues with Central Ozarks Medical Center
Keep in mind, that with any form of depression, getting back to normal is a process, there is no easy button. But, by focusing on your overall gains it is easier to recognize that you are feeling better over time – which can encourage you to keep trying. At COMC our caring behavioral health therapists in the Lake of the Ozarks area understand Seasonal Affective Disorder and can help you develop a treatment plan to overcome its effects on you. Reach out to one of our clinics in mid-Missouri any time to make an appointment and get help now. Also, be sure to use the links below to follow us on social media so we can share more tips and helpful information about living your healthiest life in Central Missouri.

Follow along with our blogs to get more health and lifestyle pointers to keep you out of our office more than once a year!

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