With Daylight Savings Time right around the corner, it’s time to talk SAD.
Over 10 Million Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'm one of them.
Okay, I’m not going to say it’s ironic, or perhaps a little ridiculous, for a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to live in the San Francisco Avenues, but here I am, facing another year of seasonal affective disorder. You would think I’d be used to sun deprivation seeing as how it’s always 56° and overcast — until the rains come. From November to March, weather in The Avenues shifts radically to 56° and overcast with 20% chance of rain. That’s SAD.
What is SAD and what can we do about it?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
The signs and symptoms that occur during depressive episodes in people with seasonal affective disorder are similar to those of major depressive disorder, including:
- loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
- decrease in energy
- a depressed mood
- low self-esteem
- weight gain due to increased cravings for carbohydrates and
- increase in sleep (hypersomnia).
Affected individuals with underlying bipolar disorder typically have alternating episodes of depression in the fall and winter months and mania during the spring and summer months.
Treatments may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy. Let’s look at treatment options I can personally speak to:
Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.
Please Note: It's best to ask your doctor or mental health provider if light therapy is a good option for you prior to purchase.
I have a compact lightbox with a warmer color temperature because I like soft things. Purchased from AmazonSmile, it quietly glows at me while I’m going through morning emails. They advise about twenty minutes so that’s what I do. Does it make me feel better? Probably. If only for the fact doing nice things for myself makes me feel better in general.
Now, I thought this was my own idea, but it seems others also agree that scents make sense. I have different sprays for different rooms and different times of the day.
Whatever makes you happy. For me: Morning? Super Lemon Room Spritz. Daytime? Glade Clean Linen. Shower Time? Lemon Grass. I might nose around for a little bedtime calmbiance with a spritz of Cedarwood.
I’m a prisoner of my circadian rhythms. How do I work around this? Waking up and curling up with a simulated dawn and dusk. While a light therapy of sorts, it’s a non-clinical treatment that can help with SAD while encouraging good sleep and good mornings.
My dawn simulator is just the start to a day of self-care through hygge. Super plush bunny slippers and fleece, thermostat at 72°, home-perked coffee with admittedly too much cream, a moment of quiet with the houseplants in the study/office/living-dining room. All this before looking at my cell phone. Nice way to start the day, even on a gloomy Thursday.
Other ways you can help yourself through the SAD season:
- Keep yourself busy
- Start up an indoor herb garden
- Read a good book. Anything by David Sadaris can help chase away the wintertime blues.
- Go for a walk in your neighborhood
- Alter your diet
- Throw a dance party in your living room
- Use that extra hour to volunteer
- Go to a meeting with your LifeRing friends
- Psychology Today reports that 10 million Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, and 10% to 20% suffer from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes known as the Winter Blues.
- Studies show that 25 to 67 percent of people with seasonal affective disorder have one or more relatives with such a disorder.
- Women have a 1.5 times higher prevalence rate of SAD than men, and seasonality problems decreased with age in both genders. (Finally -- a benefit of getting older!)
Has this piqued your interest? Here’s a wealth of information about Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Major symptoms of depression include feeling sad most of the day almost everyday, feeling hopeless or worthless, having no energy, losing interest in things you enjoy, problems sleeping, changes in appetite, feeling slow or agitated, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of death or suicide.
|Disclaimer: Bees is a volunteer LifeRing blogger who makes no claim to any professional background or allegiances whatsoever. Like all good things LifeRing, Bees shares from personal experiences.