Depression is a struggle to get through for everyone who deals with it. The condition just sweeps in out of nowhere and knocks your life off the tracks, stealing away your energy, motivation, and good moods. However, in some cases, depression isn’t quite so unexpected. It can be brought on by life events, like a loss, but some people know to expect a bout of depression every year as the days get colder and shorter.
Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a real and fairly common mental health issue, and it can be debilitating for people who suffer from it. While some do experience summertime depression, it’s more commonly associated with the winter, and leaves people feeling like they’re stuck feeling miserable until spring comes again. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! There are lots of steps you can take to feel better when you’re struggling with seasonal depression. Here are some of the most effective ways you can take care of yourself and stave off the blues this winter.
Do Your Research
Knowing what you’re up against in any situation will put you in the best possible position to fight back and help make things better for yourself. SAD is something that a lot of people haven’t heard of, and even if you are familiar with the concept, there’s a lot of resources and information out there that you might not be aware of. Doing some of your own research about what the condition is, what causes it, and what can help in certain cases can help set you up for success!
Reach Out to Your Doctor
Although it feels so deeply emotional and close to home, depression of any kind, including seasonal depression, is absolutely a medical condition, and worth bringing up to a medical professional, like a therapist, psychiatrist, or even just your regular physician. These experts can help you navigate through treatment options like medication or lifestyle changes to help you see a difference in how you feel throughout the winter months.
Keep a Routine
Regularity and predictability can be extremely helpful in combating any kind of depression, especially when you’re working on building healthy habits into your routines. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless in the face of seasonal depression, don’t try and build an entire new daily routine from scratch. This isn’t the time to be making sweeping changes– struggling to maintain all of the things you want to do for yourself might just make you feel worse!
Instead, pick one good depression-busting habit you want to start working into your daily routine, like an hour of device-free wind down time before bed, a daily walk, a nutrient-packed smoothie, or a meditation or journaling session. Add in that one new habit each day until it starts to become a familiar part of your routine– something that’s easy to keep up! Then add in a new good habit. In no time you’ll be seeing the effects of your hard work and starting to feel better.
Give Yourself What You’re Missing
There are a lot of theories as to what causes seasonal depression. A common theory that seems to carry some weight behind it is that the lack of sunlight in the winter leads to low energy and mood. Since unfortunately it isn’t possible to make the sun rise earlier or stay up later, many people focus their efforts on replenishing the benefits of sun exposure. This can include maximizing outdoor time to really soak up those rays in the winter, taking Vitamin D supplements, and using UV light boxes to trick the body into thinking it’s taking in more sunlight than it actually is.
These techniques can help you get to the root of what might be causing your seasonal depression! It can also be useful to remedy other common things that are linked to depression, such as isolation from loved ones. Making an effort to reach out to friends and family members for a quick chat or a little time together can help you to feel less lonely, lessening the group of SAD.
Seasonal depression can leave you feeling like your life is on pause until the spring, but you don’t have to live like that! By taking some extra steps to take care of yourself, you can improve your mood, energy levels, motivation, and more, leading to the winter being a happier time for you!. If you’re interested in seeing a board certified physician at no extra charge and getting access to new depression treatments, you might be interested in our depression study!