“Every pain gives a lesson and every lesson changes you for the better”- Anonymous
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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder ?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that has a seasonal pattern. SAD does not necessarily have a specific cause. Even sunlight and shorter days could affect the brain, and become causes. Simply put, SAD refers to being in a rather low mood for a specific part of the year, occurring primarily in the winter season. A way to differentiate it from other kinds of depression is that it brings along a craving for sweet and starchy items. People with SAD simply have a time of year when they feel more or less comfortable. Just how for some of us, our energy levels vary from different times in the day. So, getting to know more about SAD helps to make those with SAD more comfortable.
Depression can vary a lot between different people and you might have SAD due to a combination of factors, or there might not seem to be any specific reason. Some possible causes of SAD:
– The effects of light
– Disrupted body clock
– High melatonin levels
– Weather and temperatures
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
– lack of energy
– distancing yourself from others
– feeling guilty
– feeling low
– major changes in appetite
– irregular sleep patterns.
Remedies for SAD are:
1. Talking to those we are comfortable with- Though it may be tough to reach out even though you’re not feeling like yourself, it might help to share your feelings with someone.
2. Maintaining a personal diary- It could be possible that keeping a note of your symptoms, like when they start and if certain things trigger them, changes in the weather and more. This may help you navigate any patterns. You can also make a pen down feelings which may feel helpful for you or which you feel worsens things.
“I keep a daily diary and it’s helpful to look back over the years and see how each year I’ve felt the downward spiral starting.”- Anonymous
3. Finding ways to calm ourselves – Manage your stress; it can be helpful to brainstorm ways to handle pressure and boost your emotional strength. Some relaxation techniques; relaxing helps look after our wellbeing when we are feeling stressed, anxious or busy. Spend time in nature; being outside, in greenery, helps us feel more grounded and connected to our surroundings.
“I get up early, wrap up warm, put on my pedometer and walk in the dark and enjoy the solitude … By the time people are up and about, I’m back home having walked a good few miles and feel so much better for it.”- Anonymous
4. Plan for harder times- For example, try to re-arrange stressful activities for another time, and rather plan calming activities which might help better your mood, plan early, like stocking things you need or preparing early for special occasions such as Christmas, try to free up more time to relax or do things you like, and you can make a self-care box for yourself.
5. Respecting our body more- Taking care of your physical health can create a big impact on how we feel emotionally. It helps to:
– Try and get more sleep- For many experiencing depression, sleeping in moderation is a daily challenge. Getting good sleep helps better our mood and boost our energy levels.
– Be mindful of your diet- Eating regularly and maintaining your blood sugar has a big impact on our mood and energy levels.
– Increase physical activity- If exercising is hard for you, even milder actions like doing yoga, swimming, or walking can majorly help better your mood.
– Take care of your hygiene- When someone is experiencing depression, hygiene often takes the backseat, but small actions like bathing, and getting ready regardless of whether you’re going out of the house, can impact our feelings.
– Avoid drugs and alcohol- Though drugs and alcohol may seem tempting to help cope with complicated feelings and challenging times, in the long run, they actually make you feel worse.
If you’re trying to be supportive to a friend or relative who has SAD, it can be challenging to navigate how you can help. Here are some things you could try while also looking after your own mental health:
– Let them know you are there for them
– Support them in trying to seek help
– Don’t be critical
– Be mindful of what you say
– Ask about what helps them
– Help them to plan ahead
– Stay in touch
– Take care of yourself
SAD is known to be a relatively common disorder as compared to other forms of depression, as depressive symptoms have often been noticed to peak in the winter season. Seasonal affective disorder is a growing condition, and making ourselves familiar with it helps us be more mindful and considerate of others.