If you have noticed a pattern between feeling depressed and the particular time of year, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder. For example, you may notice that you get depressed every fall or winter and that the depression disappears in the spring. Less commonly, a person gets depressed every summer and feels better in the fall.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder often looks like:
- Feeling sluggish or slow
- Sleeping too much
- Eating more than you need to feel full
- Gaining weight
- Craving carbohydrate-rich foods
We’re not sure why, but young people and women are more likely to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you have seasonal affective disorder, you may feel stress and that you can’t manage yourself when these periods come on. It is very difficult to work and socialize.
What can help prevent seasonal affective disorder?
Bright light therapy
Bright white or blue light first thing in the morning can help your body adjust to the changing seasons. You need a particular type of light and you need to use it in a particular way. Research studies generally use a flourescent light box that produces full spectrum visible light from 5000 to 10000 lux. You don’t have to stare right at the light source, but the light does need to enter your pupils. Do this every morning for 30 minutes.
Dawn simulation therapy
A different type of light therapy works by gradually increasing the intensity of light in your bedroom every morning. Dawn simulation light therapy may make it easier to wake up and give you more energy in your morning.
Melatonin is a natural hormone your brain produces every evening when it gets dark out. Melatonin prevents over excitement, and promotes (but does not induce) sleep. It’s best to take melatonin 30-60 minutes before sleep. It’s important to reduce bright lights and especially blue lights before sleep as well, to help your brain and body get back to the natural rhythm of sleep.
Mental health counseling
Talking with a counselor can help you notice your feelings as they change when the seasons change. You can collaborate on how best to take care of yourself to prevent seasonal changes from disrupting your life, as well as manage your symptoms when they’re at their worst. You can also practice communicating with your loved ones to ask for help and support when you need it.
Take care of yourself!
Seasonal changes are hard for a lot of people. It’s important to have compassion for yourself, find ways to nurture yourself, and connect with others for support. We can help you explore different ways to take care of your body, mind, and spirit. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free 10 minute consultation.