It’s normal to feel sad sometimes considering you cannot be happy every moment of your life, but do you know how to distinguish the difference between normal and abnormal blues? An important question to ask yourself is, “Am I feeling sadder than usual?” If the answer is yes, then you may well be someone that is affected by seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD causes people to feel anxious, stressed, sad or even depressed as the seasons change. Most people notice these symptoms during late fall or early winter, but you can experience them during the beginning of spring and summer as well. It’s crucial for people to evaluate their mental and physical health as the weather gets colder seeing as SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans.
Symptoms of SAD
Knowing the signs of SAD will help you determine if you should be worried. Common symptoms associated with SAD include but are not limited to:
- Low energy
- Feeling agitated
SAD affects everyone differently so even if you aren’t experiencing some signs above you should still keep track of your mental and physical well-being,
How to Treat
With a variety of lifestyle changes, you may be able to combat SAD without the use of medical treatments. Here are a few things that may help:
Implement a Healthy Diet
Eating nutritious and healthy foods helps reduce the chances of cancer, aid in weight loss, improve mood and much more. Completely revamping your diet too quickly may hinder your progress if it’s too extreme of a change, so make sure to take it easy. Adding a piece of fruit or some veggies with your meals is a great way to slowly start changing the way you eat. To make eating fruits and vegetables even easier, look for healthy meal recipes online, so you have some ideas on what to make.
Exercising can prevent a multitude of medical issues ranging from high blood pressure to a stroke. Moving around not only helps your body physically but mentally as well, because it can help to bring focus to your mind and relieve stress. Although everyone knows that being active has tremendous benefits for your overall health, knowing and doing are two different things. Becoming more active can be tough so only do exercises that you’re comfortable with. Whether you want to take a relaxing walk outside or participate in an intense workout class, each option is okay as long as you’re moving around.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is extremely important to your physical and mental well-being. Without the proper amount of sleep, you may feel groggy and less energized. Take note of the days when you cannot sleep so you can determine what might be the cause. Keeping a sleep journal is the perfect way to keep track of your sleep patterns. You may be surprised at what you find. Simple fixes like buying a new mattress or purchasing a humidifier may be all you need to get a better night’s rest.
Although you may despise the snow, going outdoors can really help you. Lack of sunlight is a big reason why people feel depressed during the winter months. Bright light often makes people feel happier, more positive and more optimistic. Even though the sun is out significantly less during the fall and winter, you can still take advantage of the little sun you do get. Take a short walk around your neighbourhood, or take a quick 5-minute break to go outside while you’re at work. It’s understandable that not everyone is going to want to go outside when it’s chilly so even opening the blinds or investing in bright lights for your home and office will help tremendously.
Don’t negate the healthy habits that you’ve been implementing in your life. You don’t want to feel like all the hard work you’ve been doing has been for nothing, so try to resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol. Substances like alcohol and cigarettes should not be used as a way to cope with unpleasant things in your life, because it can end up having an adverse effect. By resisting the appeal of unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, you will help your body and mind function a lot smoother.
Sometimes the symptoms produced by SAD are too advanced, and you need the help of a professional. If you are someone who needs a medical opinion, then two common treatment options you will hear are light therapy and psychotherapy. Consider these choices before turning to more intense options if they do not help.
How to Live With SAD
Remember that you are not alone. According to American Family Physician, approximately 4 to 6 percent of people experience winter depression. Implementing healthy lifestyle changes and habits will help make living with SAD easier. Also, don’t forget to let friends and family know how you’re feeling. Being social and discussing what you’re going through during this difficult period of time can help you find some new ways of dealing with SAD. However, if your feelings of depression or anxiety continue to worsen then you should seek medical attention immediately.
D., A. (2017, October 25). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651.
The National Institute of Mental Health. (2019, March 26). Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml.
Seasonal Affective Disorder. (2000, March 1). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from