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5 Ways to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Charles Chamblee, D.Min., L.P.C.-S., T.A.-S
Also referred to as the “Winter Blues”, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a specific kind of depression that often strikes in late fall through winter. Symptoms include feeling lethargic, having trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and more. Here are some steps you can take to help you overcome your symptoms of SAD:
How to manage symptoms of SAD
1. Soak up the sun/Take Vitamin D
In various medical studies, low levels of vitamin D were linked with Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, vitamin D supplements alone are not sufficient in tackling SAD. It has been proven that a lack of sunlight has a negative correlation to mood. Whether you decide to take vitamin D supplements or take an extra walk in the sun, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your vitamin D levels. Consult your physician before taking vitamin D tablets.
2. Talk with your doctor
Baptist Health recommends that you consult a physician if you are feeling unmotivated and depressed for extended periods of time or are behaving uncharacteristically. We also recommend a visit to your physician if you are having difficulty sleeping, experiencing a loss of appetite or having thoughts of self-harm.
Stress and anxiety are major factors in SAD. Fortunately, performing regular exercise can help relieve both of these symptoms. Studies have shown that getting fit can have positive effects on your mood. We recommend focusing on getting cardio exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. If you haven’t been working out before, starting with a 30-minute brisk walk, 5 days of the week, is a good place to start.
4. Light therapy
Light therapy, or phototherapy, is the process of sitting in front of a light box early in the morning to simulate natural light. It has shown signs of increasing people’s moods after only a few days. Before purchasing a light box, we highly recommend you speak with your physician to see if light therapy is right for you.
5. Stick to a schedule
One struggle people go through with SAD is maintaining a consistent schedule. While all of the methods we’ve mentioned previously are effective at reducing symptoms of SAD, you may not feel the long-term benefits of these practices unless you maintain a consistent schedule. We recommend that you work with your doctor to develop a schedule for you to follow while overcoming SAD.
Baptist Health recommends that you see a doctor to identify which of these methods would best suit your needs. With consistent practice, you can see an increase, both short and long-term, in your mood and energy. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of SAD and do not have a physician, you can request an appointment with Baptist Health today.
Fact: Did you know the SAD can also occur for some individuals in Spring and Summer?