You know how you get that blue feeling when all the leaves have fallen off the trees and the sun starts ducking behind the clouds more and more? Good news, that’s completely normal! But if it’s severe, and I’m talking a deep dark depression, you might want to talk to your doctor and find out if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know what some of you may be thinking… the whole “this is a joke thing” crossed my mind too.
Then I actually saw what my dad was like during the winter months: grumpy, sad, loss of interest (aka he just sat in front of the T.V. and did nothing), he ate everything he could see, and slept more than needed. So after convincing my mom to talk to him, she confronted him about going to the doctor.
We found out he suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that affects a person during the same season each year. (Although more popular during the winter months, people do suffer during the summer seasons as well.) Anyone can get SAD, but here are a few facts about those most at risk:
– People who live in areas where winter days are short.
– People between the ages of 15 and 55.
– People who have a family member suffering form SAD already.
– Women are more likely to get it over men.
Here are some things you should keep an eye out for in your friends, family, and yes, even yourself!
Feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious, loss of interest in usual activities, eating more and craving carbohydrates (well, more so than usual), weight gain, and sleeping more but still feeling drowsy during the daytime.
Whether or not you’re suffering from SAD, there are a few things we all can do to feel better in the winter months. Some doctors prescribe a bright light therapy treatment, which involves sitting in front of a “light box” for half an hour or longer during the day. The light, which is lacking naturally in these months, is said to “trick” your body into thinking it’s bright, happy sunlight, thus enhancing your mood.
Another light therapy treatment is called dawn simulation; a dim light goes on in the morning while you sleep and slowly brightens up your room, like a sunrise. Other treatments include: just getting outside and embracing the natural sunlight that exists, antidepressants (these work to balance the brain chemicals that affect mood) and counseling to learn about SAD and ways to manage your symptoms.
Let’s all try to ward away the winter blues this year by imagining a nice warm happy place! I know that every time old Jack Frost starts nipping at my poor little nose, I’m going to imagine a nice warm beach and a tangerine-grapefruit margarita in my hand.