Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is exactly what it means, a depressive disorder that raises its head every year in a particular season.
If you ever heard about the term ‘winter blues’, you might already be aware of it or even experience it. However, it is more than just a feeling.
The depressive disorder has the tendency to occur every year in a particular season and also end at the same time once the season changes.
While it is more common during the winters due to the absence of warmth and sunlight, it is also prevalent in summer in a few people.
SAD is more commonly seen in women, adults, and young adults.
There is also a misconception connected with SAD as most people believe that it is only prevalent in colder countries with longer winter duration, however, it is also common in India with over 10 million people experiencing it every year.
This number is increasing rapidly as more and more people are leading sedentary lifestyles cooped up inside their homes.
Signs and symptoms of SAD:
The symptoms of SAD are known to begin mildly as the season sets and become severe as the season progresses. Its common symptoms are:
- Low energy
- Depressive mood throughout the day
- Less interest in daily things
- Suicidal tendencies
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of interest in social activities
- Weight gain in winters or loss in summers
Similar to other disorders, it is recommended to Consult a Doctor as soon as you Experience Symptoms of SAD.
The doctor will eradicate other similar conditions like hypothyroidism or bipolar disorder before beginning treatment. Treatment usually includes light therapy or phototherapy, counseling, and medication in more complicated cases.
With all that said, the effects of SAD can be minimized like any other health issue by following a healthy and active lifestyle, a clean diet, and regular exercises. Read on to know the 8 ways to cope with it.
1. Get out in the sun
Unlike the western countries, we do have access to natural sunlight albeit moderate, even during the winters. However, the winter temperatures force us to coop up inside the house.
The best way to beat SAD is by stepping out in the sun. Spend as much time as possible outside in the natural sunlight and let the rays bath you with positivity.
2. Eat clean
Eating unhealthily or overeating is one of the common effects of SAD.
Your body will crave junk and sweets during this phase. So, it is easy to fall prey to bad eating habits when you go through SAD.
To combat it, clean-up your eating habits by reducing your carbs intake and including more protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Vitamin D is known to be important to maintain good moods. So, have foods that are rich in vitamin D like salmon or egg yolks. Also, have more fruits and vegetables.
3. Stay active
Staying active is one of the most effective ways to combat any depressive disorders.
While it is easier said than done, it is known to effectively improve one’s mood, especially for those suffering from SAD.
Studies show that even low-intensity activities like going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes a day can significantly affect one’s mood.
4. Be among people
While it is easier and more preferable to stay as a recluse during this phase, it is not going to do any good and in turn does more damage. It is advised to be among people to shake this avoidable feeling of depression.
Stay in contact with your friends and family to keep the low moods and lethargy at bay.
Aromas have the power to positively affect one’s moods. Studies have shown that certain smells can positively affect the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating one’s mood.
So include essential oils into your daily life or in your baths to boost your mood, especially when you feel a dreaded low.
6. Sleep better
While being sleep deprived is one of the symptoms of SAD, following the above tips is bound to make you sleep better.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to have the right mood the next day. A tip to ensure you maintain good sleeping habits is to set a routine and sticking to it.
Set a schedule to sleep at the same time everyday.
7. Take time off
Normal everyday life can be pretty overwhelming when you go through this phase.
Take some time off to recover and get back to the daily grind instead of forcing yourself to be in line with your daily strenuous schedule.
Another effective alternative is to take a vacation to a warmer and brighter place.
As mentioned above, any mental issue must be spoken with an expert. It is advised to Consult a Doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms as it will be easier to treat it in its earlier state.
While this is seasonal, it does have the tendency to develop into a much severe condition as it recurs every year.