Do I Have Seasonal Depression? Signs of SAD & How to Improve Your Winter Outlook
While many people dislike the long, cold winter months, for an estimated ten million people across the nation, it’s more than just feeling a little “blah.” For individuals dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the entire winter season can be filled with sadness, hopelessness, and a nearly debilitating loss of energy and motivation. There’s no doubt that being stuck inside lately with the latest challenges from COVID-19 only add to the stress and strain.
Do you have an occasional bout of winter blues, or is it seasonal depression?
Typical Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder
While these signs may also be symptoms of generalized depressive disorders, people suffering from SAD find these symptoms worsened over the fall and winter months.
- I feel exhausted in the winter, no matter how much I sleep.
- I struggle with cravings for sweets and carbohydrates during the winter.
- I lack the energy to pursue interests I usually enjoy.
- I have issues with weight gain throughout the winter months.
- I frequently find myself less productive at work during the winter.
- I have no desire to socialize in winter.
- I am plagued by feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anger, and sadness every day in the winter.
- I feel sluggish and unmotivated most days throughout the cold months.
- I have unwelcome thoughts about my own self-worth.
- I make excuses to stay in the house unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
While the exact mechanism of SAD isn’t entirely clear, it’s generally recognized that it is caused by shorter periods of exposure to natural light. In SAD-affected individuals, this wildly disrupts the production of melatonin and serotonin, which play a part in mood stability and the ability to achieve restorative sleep. Vitamin D, which boosts the body’s serotonin levels, is significantly decreased when exposure to natural light is limited, adding yet another complication to the mix.
In addition, individuals who already have a depression-related diagnosis, including bipolar, are more at risk for developing true SAD. Having a family history of depression or SAD also increases the risk of developing the disorder yourself.
How to Improve Your Winter Outlook
There are a few steps you can take to diminish the effects of SAD this winter.
- Go outside daily
- Exercise regularly
- Engage in pursuits you enjoy
- Get enough rest
- Adjust your diet to include sources of Omega 3 acids and Vitamin D
The most highly recommended therapeutic, however, remains light therapy at 10,000 lux for 20–30 minutes a day. Quality matters, however, and only light boxes that supply the approved 10k lux and filter out harmful UV light should be used.
The SunBox Company is the original lightbox, made in the USA and trusted by over 2,500 health professionals since 1985. Browse our collection, or contact us to get started on your happier, healthier winter season!