Seasonal depression, also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that is related to the change of seasons. Most people have symptoms that begin in autumn and continue through winter, although some experience seasonal depression in spring that lasts throughout the summer.
Symptoms of seasonal depression include feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day, having low energy, and losing interest in once-favorite activities. Other symptoms include having trouble sleeping, feeling sluggish or agitated, and having difficulty concentrating. While rare, some sufferers consider suicide. Amanda Johnson, PhD, Clinical Director at Capstone Behavioral Health Care, offers three ways to combat seasonal depression.
1. Get plenty of sunlight. "Find activities that you can do outside during the fall and winter months," explained Johnson. "During fall, consider picking apples, visiting a pumpkin patch, taking walks to see the fall foliage, and having cookouts. In winter, outdoor activity ideas include snow shoeing, skiing, sledding, building a snowman, ice skating, and taking winter walks."
2. Practice good self-care. "It's important to get plenty of sleep, to eat nutritious food, and to stay hydrated," added Johnson. "Avoid drugs and alcohol. These basics go a long way towards keeping us mentally healthy."
3. Engage in physical activity. "Even if you can't be outdoors, getting regular exercise will help," said Johnson. "Consider joining a gym, cleaning your basement, walking in an indoor mall, or taking an exercise class."
Getting social support and spending time with family and friends may also help, according to Johnson. "Finding meaningful activities, planning a vacation somewhere sunny, and reducing stress with relaxation techniques and meditation are helpful as well," she added. "If you're doing all these things and aren't feeling better, consider speaking with your doctor about medication, or seeking a therapist who can help you learn additional skills to combat SAD." For more information about seasonal depression, please contact:
Capstone Behavioral Health Care
1123 1st Avenue E, Suite 200
Newton, Iowa. 50208