How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
How to Prepare for Winter Depression
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that generally occurs in winter. Also called winter depression or seasonal depression disorder, it causes the same type of symptoms as major depression. These include depressed mood, low energy level, decreased appetite, and lack of interest in things you typically enjoy. If this condition affects you, it’s important to know how to prepare for winter depression.
What Are the Early Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
People who think they may be affected by SAD often ask, “When does seasonal affective disorder begin?”. The timing of the onset is different for each person. However, there are certain signs of seasonal depression disorder’s arrival.
SAD has been linked to a reduced amount of sunlight and how it affects brain chemistry. As a result, shorter days are an indicator for people who are susceptible to SAD to be aware of. So are cooler temperatures that can cause people to be outside less. That decrease in exposure to sunlight can cause or worsen the condition.
Ways to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent seasonal affective disorder or lessen its symptoms. Practice these prevention strategies if SAD affects you:
● Get plenty of natural light. Open the curtains or blinds in your home or workplace as soon as the sun comes up. Go for a morning walk. Drink your coffee outside. Run errands before sunset. Buy daylight simulation light bulbs. All of these actions help your body cope with the shorter days.
● Eat right. SAD can cause you to want simple carbohydrates like sugary foods, white bread, and pasta, which don’t provide optimal nutrition. Focus your carbohydrate intake on complex carbs instead. This includes foods like whole-grain bread, brown rice, bananas, and oatmeal. Omega-3 fats can also be helpful. They’re found in walnuts, soybeans and oily fish.
● Exercise regularly. Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days. Continuous rhythmic exercises that involve both your arms and legs, like walking, swimming, dancing, weight training, and martial arts, provide the most benefit.
● Connect with others more often. Isolation can intensify SAD symptoms. Spending time with people, on the other hand, can boost your spirits. Whether that means getting together with family and friends, volunteering or joining a SAD support group, human connection can be very beneficial.
● Take up an evening hobby. Having something fun to look forward to after sunset can help improve your mood.
● Maintain the same sleep schedule. The lack of energy that’s a symptom of depression can make you want to go to bed earlier or stay in bed longer. But maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is better for you.
● Talk to your doctor. If the tactics above don’t improve your symptoms, your doctor may have you try treatments like light therapy, counseling or medication.
Taking steps to prevent seasonal affective disorder can help you find more happiness and maintain a positive outlook in the winter months.
Learn More About Ways to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder from Baptist Health
Keep learning about the seasonal affective disorder with Baptist Health. If you’re looking for treatment or more information about your behavioral health, please contact a behavioral health provider with Baptist Health today.