Health Minute: Are You Feeling SAD?
The days are getting shorter and the temperature is getting cooler. As the seasons change, it can affect our mental health in many ways. Seasonal depression affects more than 10 million Americans each year and is four times more likely to affect women. Chad Lennon, MD, with Adventist HealthCare shares some signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder and how we can help combat it.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs around the same time every year. It’s most common in the late fall and winter when there is limited exposure to daylight, but tends to get better in the spring when daylight hours increase.
This, coupled with anxiety and depression around pandemic can bring challenges to the mental health of people of all ages.
What are some signs of seasonal affective disorder?
It is normal to have a slight change in mood, but if it starts to affect your daily living you should see your doctor. Some symptoms of SAD are similar to major depression, which can include:
· Feeling sad or unmotivated
· Lack of concentration
· Fatigue or having low energy
· Feeling agitated
· Social withdrawal or isolation
· Changes in appetite or weight gain (particularly a craving for carbohydrates)
· Lost interest in activities you once enjoyed
What are some ways we can reduce seasonal affective disorder?
Some ways to help reduce Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
· Get a good night’s rest. Sleeping for 7-8 hours each night is a great way to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
· Try phototherapy. Spend more time in the sun or increase the amount of sunlight in your home to get more vitamin D intake and serotonin, which is one of your brain’s “happy" chemicals. You can also get an artificial light that mimics the sun.
· Engage in fun activities. Do more activities you enjoy or try something new with your friends or family.
· Increase physical activity. Being active can increase your mood and release endorphins and serotonin as well.
· Maintain a healthy diet. Some of our favorite holiday meals and comfort foods, although tasty, can leave us feeling sluggish and in a bad mood. Be sure to eat dark leafy greens, lean proteins, fatty fish like salmon and even dark chocolate to boost your mood.
If your symptoms increase or persist with no improvement, consider seeking a help from a professional.