Commonly known as “winter blues,” seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a winter-related health condition characterized by changes in mood and behavior. Symptoms include tiredness, oversleeping, anxiety, irritability, social isolation, insomnia, and depression. About 5% of Americans suffer from this condition every year, with females, young people, those living far away from the equator, and those with a family history of depression being more susceptible to it. Although the real cause of this condition is unknown, experts link it to low sunlight in winter, which causes a chemical change in the brain, disrupting biological clocks such as the circadian rhythm.
Here are six effective ways in which you can manage seasonal depression.
- Be Proactive
As soon as you start experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, you need to take proactive steps towards countering them. For instance, if you feel like isolating yourself, overcome this feeling by socializing with others. Additionally, the purpose is to get active even when you feel bored, irritable, or tired. By doing this, you will successfully alleviate the symptoms of SAD.
- Take a Break
Taking a break is necessary for SAD relief, particularly if your routine or location is among the triggers. For example, if your job is a great contributor to your tiredness or depression, you should consider taking regular breaks from it to give your body some time to rest. Similarly, if you live far away from the equator, taking a vacation to another place will help relieve SAD symptoms. You can also move to a place where you will have more exposure to sunlight.
- Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Studies have linked Vitamin D to the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the circadian rhythm. Sunlight is an incredible source of vitamin D, and lack of exposure to it causes SAD patients to have low levels of this mineral. Due to low sunlight in winter, SAD patients need an alternative source of vitamin D to keep their melatonin levels and circadian rhythms in check. One option is to consume foods rich in vitamin D, including liver, red meat, and oily fish. Another option is to take vitamin D supplements.
- Use Artificial Light Therapy
While there’s no clear cause of seasonal depression, low light in winter plays a major role in triggering it. Therefore, exposing yourself to artificial light can help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Specifically, light exposure helps regulate chemicals in the brain, which, in turn, regulates the secretion of important hormones that control biological clocks. Phototherapy boxes can greatly help as they provide brighter light than regular bulbs. The light produced is also of different wavelengths, mimicking regular sunlight.
- Create a Schedule and Stick to It
People with SAD tend to sleep longer at night but still feel sleepy throughout the day. One way to improve sleep is by maintaining a constant sleeping schedule, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). To achieve this, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends and holidays. This enables your brain to adapt to a constant sleeping schedule, which can help alleviate insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and oversleeping.
- Consult a Doctor
Depending on the severity of your condition, a visit to the doctor may be necessary. Some people only experience mild winter blues that can be treated by something as simple as eating a favorite snack. However, some may need medications such as antidepressants. Therefore, talk to a doctor not only for proper diagnosis but also for suitable treatment.
How Reata Insurance Group Can Help
The right personal insurance coverage can help you maintain good health throughout the year. Contact our experts at Reata Insurance Group to ensure you are properly covered at all times.