Depressed when you should, by all accounts be happy- holidays and all? Can’t take it anymore; cold dreary winter days morphing into one another? Staying in, even in bed, giving in to feeling blue, withdrawing from all that makes you happy, and even gaining weight?
“You could be one of 4 to 6 percent of people in the United States estimated to have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD”. (Dr. Angelos Halaris, MD, professor of psychiatry and medical director of adult psychiatry at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago)
SAD was formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also called winter depression, winter blues, and seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.
Called “seasonal pattern”, for recurrent major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year and fully remits otherwise. Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder. SAD’s prevalence in the U.S. ranges from 1.4% in Florida to 9.9% in Alaska.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, [may] have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” (Wikipedia, Seasonal Affective Disorder)
“While we don’t know the exact causes of SAD, some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of year. Experts believe that SAD may be related to these hormonal changes. One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood. When nerve cell pathways in the brain that regulate mood don’t function normally, the result can be feelings of depression, along with symptoms of fatigue and weight gain. Less energy, trouble concentrating, greater appetite, increased desire to be alone, greater need for sleep, weight gain.” (WebMd, Seasonal Depression- Seasonal Affective Disorder)
What to do? (Answer- plenty, says Matthew Hunt, Counseling on Demand)
1. Brighten up your day with lights, lots of lights. Fill your home, office, life with bright, bright lights
2. Run to a boat show, gardening show, outdoor living show. Imagine yourself living in that world
3. Inhale fragrances at the mall (where every department store greets you with free fragrances). Make a frivolous purchase that makes you smile- maybe a pair of rainbow-colored 5-toe socks.
4. Get outdoors into any sun, no matter how sparse. Indoors, face the least bit of sun that you can find, especially morning, and throughout the day. Face sunrises and sunsets.
5. Hear music, loud and joyful.
6. Take silly photos and post them, inviting others in return. Giggles!
7. Liven up yourself and your pets with a new toy and play along with them.
8. YouTube a video of you and your pets.
Need a bit more support getting through it all? This is where Counseling on Demand comes in.
We are online at CounselingonDemand.com
Effective Online Counseling…Only a Click Away