Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder Q and A
“What is it?”
Although the specific diagnosis is complicated, these symptoms may indicate signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder: craving for carbohydrates, excessive sleeping, lack of energy, weight gain, and all of the symptoms of depression that go along with it: excessive guilt, irritability and others.
“Who’s at risk?”
People who live at higher latitudes have a higher risk, as do people already diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. Younger people are more at risk than older ones. Regardless of these factors, anyone can suffer with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. ONLY A LICENSED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL can make this diagnosis!
“What makes it worse?”
Having the short days of winter upon us right after the overspending, overeating, and family time of the holidays can contribute to the exhaustion we feel. Less daytime light to feed our vitamin D needs is also a factor, as is less stimulation of the glands that provide serotonin production. Making New Years’ Resolutions can make you feel ineffective and hopeless if you are depressed; postpone until spring.
“What makes it better?”
Getting outside, even 20 minutes a day, without sunglasses. This exposes you to unfiltered light.
Leaving lights on inside the house, and drapes open to outside light.
Light boxes (available online) specifically designed for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Therapy to offer support and new ways of viewing your world, and to prevent worsening of depression.
Exercise, exercise, exercise: again, 20 minutes a day helps. Exercise can be a ‘magic bullet’ for depression and anxiety relief! If it’s bad weather, walk at a mall or a gym.
“How can a therapist help me?”
A therapist can hold you accountable for putting these helps into place in your life, as well as help you examine how you think when depressed and challenge that faulty thinking. There’s no need to go at life alone, and untreated depression is indeed dangerous. There IS help!