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Seasonal affective disorder: therapists consider how to handle it



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Seasonal depression or SAD is common in the autumn and winter months.


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As approaches winter the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. Almost 10 million people in the US suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. SAD closely resembles depression (think of lack of energy, bad mood and loss of interest or motivation) as it is a form of depression . It's not the same as a clinical depression, but it's still a mood disorder that requires professional attention if it affects your life.

Even though you have no pre-history depression SAD may still affect you (though this is more common in individuals with a history). Although it is not a permanent disease – it often starts in the fall and dissolves in the spring – you can take various measures to prevent or manage it.

Even if you do not know SAD personally, getting to know SAD can help your family, friends, or colleagues who might be affected. Read on to learn more about the vulnerable SAD and get tips from psychologists on how to handle it.

What is SAD and who is at risk of getting it?

"Seasonal Affective Disorder (also referred to as Seasonal Depression) is a form of depression that affects people during the winter months, the symptoms most commonly occurring from November through April and can vary from mild to severe," said Malin McKinley. LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety and depression from Agoura Hills, California. Although everyone has SAD, people in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Northeast or other places experiencing shorter, darker days and colder weather in winter are more likely to be affected by seasonal depression.

What are the symptoms?

  • Depressed mood
  • Negative thoughts
  • Fatigue
  • Hypersomnia (too much sleep)
  • Increased carbohydrate intake / weight gain
  • Social withdrawal / hibernation

If you have a family history of when you have depression or who are bipolar or female, the risk of developing SAD is higher, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"Although the causes of SAD are unknown, the disorder has been linked to biochemical imbalances in the brain due to a decrease in daylight and sunlight during the winter months," McKinley said, referring to fewer hours of daylight and cloudy weather Heavens that keep out direct sunlight.

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What can you do to prevent SAD?

If you have depression, bipolar disorder, or suspected you are susceptible to it, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is helpful. Science has found that exercise is particularly helpful in relieving depression symptoms.

"Changing certain behaviors that exacerbate depression or SAD reduces the likelihood of SAD / depression, such as staying active despite lack of motivation, exercise and healthy eating even if you do not It's also important to seek help, "said Amy Cirbus, a New York-based talk-room therapist.

"Lifestyle changes like 30 minutes a day doing sports, going outside to get natural daylight / sunlight, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, avoiding drugs and alcohol, shortening, meditating and reducing screen time Getting in touch with loved ones are great ways to increase emotional well-being and alleviate symptoms, "said McKinley.

Light therapy is another promising intervention since, according to the Mayo Clinic, increased exposure (also from artificial sources) can help alleviate or prevent symptoms. Light effects impair the body's ability to produce certain hormones and helps to regulate the rhythm of the day – both important for overall health, sleep and mood regulation.

Read more: Online Vs. In-person Therapy: What You Should Know

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How to deal with SAD?

If you think you may be suffering from SAD and interfere with your ability to get through your day, work, and relationships, you should consult a doctor. Regular participation in conversation therapies with a licensed therapist can also be very helpful. In addition to finding professional help from a doctor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, you can consider the following tips.

Creating and Following a Routine

"SAD tend to stay at home and isolate themselves, as lack of sunlight can reduce a person's motivation to get out, which can create other strong emotions Strengthening Only The reason you do not want to get out and get a person in a vicious circle, so it's very important to develop a routine that ensures a person has activity, support and self-care during the day, "Cirbus said.

Take care of yourself

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Preparing healthy meals and maintaining a balanced diet can help with SAD.


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If you strive to get enough sleep, exercise regularly stay hydrated and eat healthy, balanced meals support your overall health and well-being Your mental health. Do not be afraid to reach friends and family if you feel bad. Emotional support, attachment and a sense of community are important to make you feel better.

Try light therapy

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Woman at a light therapy session.


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Being outside for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day is ideal. However, if you do not have much sunshine where you live, or if your schedule keeps you busy, a light therapy device is a relatively inexpensive solution. "Sitting in front of a light box specially designed for light therapy for 20-90 minutes has been effective in just a few weeks, stimulating the pathways in the brain that control sleep and help regulate mood," McKinley said.

You can buy them online in a variety of different sizes and prices.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be considered as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a disease or health goals.


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