The transition from Spring to Fall may signify the start of the Holiday Season for most,
but for some, it may trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are some tactics you can utilize to reduce SAD's effects.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, (also known as Seasonal Depression), is a depressive state triggered by a change in seasons. It generally occurs at the same time every year and is most common during the transition into the Fall and Winter months, however, it has also occurred in the transition to Spring and Summer.
Some effects of SAD include:
Causes of SAD.
- Prolonged states of depression
- Low energy levels
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
While the exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is not yet known, some widely accepted contributors, (as stated by The Mayo Clinic
), include changes to your Circadian Rhythm, Serotonin levels, and Melatonin levels.
Your Circadian Rhythm
or your biological clock
, tends to be disrupted by the abundance or lack of sunlight inherent to a seasonal transition. This can lead to feelings of depression or inconsistent sleep patterns.
Reduced sunlight can also reduce your Serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter
or brain chemical
that greatly affects your mood. States of depression can be caused by this drop in Serotonin levels.
Courtesy of The Mayo Clinic
"The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood."
Strategies to kick SAD's a#@!
What follows are some common strategies to combat Seasonal Depression's effects. Be mindful, strategies labeled with an asterisk (*) are recommended with a physician's approval and guidance.
: The purchase and exposure of a certain light-emitting box may be a solution to your Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light therapy mimics the effects of outside light and as a result, may reduce the symptoms of SAD. Speak to your primary care physician about what make and model may be optimal in your particular case.
: If recurring symptoms, (especially severe symptoms such as thoughts of self-harm or suicide), present themselves, anti-depressant medication may be the optimal solution to turn to. Have a discussion with your primary care physician about what the optimal solution might be in your particular case.
: While I would recommend psychotherapy to anyone who has the opportunity, therapy may be particularly advantageous to someone facing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Learning healthy coping methods and stress management behaviors from a licensed professional may help to quickly curb negative emotions.
: Exposing yourself to more sunlight within your household may be an easy and safe solution to reducing the effect of SAD. Opening the blinds and transitioning your seating position may be simple, but they are simultaneously effective solutions to changing your prevailing mood.
: Exposure to sunlight is incredibly valuable to your mental health even in less than optimal temperatures. That being the case, taking a walk, or attending an outdoor event may be a great way to combat SAD.
: Regular exercise can help to mitigate key contributors to Seasonal Affective Disorder such as anxiety and stress. Activities such as Tai Chi or Yoga may also be valuable as dual-purpose solutions, fulfilling both meditative and exercise goals.