Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder


Tips to Deal With the Winter Blues

Get the Right Light

Getting more light into your day is a simple and effective solution, but you need the right kind of light. Simply sitting in a brightly lit room probably won’t do the trick; using a special light box that delivers an abundance of UV rays will make a much bigger difference.

White light therapy is the traditional approach to treating SAD, but newer blue light therapy seems to have an equally positive effect. Both conventional tube bulbs and LED lights can be used, but whichever device you decide on, it’s crucial you get the high quality of light you need.

There are plenty of SAD light manufacturers out there, and some aren’t medically supported. Do your research and check with your doctor whether the brand is reputable before you make your purchase.

Time Light Therapy Properly

Experts generally agree that the most important time to get light is in the morning. After all, the rising sun naturally rouses your body and mind, resetting your internal clock and lifting your mood. Mood and energy can get a lot worse when you’re waking up before dawn.

However, like many conditions, there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for SAD. Everyone experiences the symptoms a bit differently, and everyone has their own circadian rhythm and sleep habits.

If you’re naturally late to bed and late to rise, getting a dose of bright light too early in the morning could make your SAD symptoms worse. Consider your own habits and personality when you treat your SAD.

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Consider Medication

If light therapy isn’t working well for you, it may be worth talking to your doctor about adding an antidepressant to your treatment plan. Paxil and Prozac have been shown to improve depression symptoms, and may be what you need to get your perspective and energy back on track.

However, it’s important to be cautious when it comes to medication for depression. Although these drugs aim to balance important brain chemicals, they might not be the ideal solution for seasonal depression since it stems from different causes than clinical depression.

Try Ion Therapy

A very new (but promising) SAD therapy uses negatively-charged ions to relieve the symptoms. It’s still a mysterious approach — in fact, the positive results were an accidental discovery — but experts have high hopes that flooding the body with painless negative ions could bring a lot of relief to a lot of sufferers.

Whichever SAD therapy you use, don’t discount the importance of a strong support system. Emotional states are strongly tied to physical states, so keeping your activity level high, socializing on a regular basis, and staying in physical contact with family and friends can help your mood and perspective more than you might imagine.

When to See a Doctor

If you’ve tried to get more light into your life, and adjusted your daily habits and medication to no avail, you may be dealing with something more serious than winter depression. Since there appears to be a genetic component to SAD, doctors suspect sufferers may also be genetically predisposed to chronic clinical depression, which could interfere with your life year-round.

Not everyone with the SAD symptom set will experience chronic depression, but it is worth paying attention to changes that could signal a worsening problem. If your weight changes by more than 5 percent, you lose interest in your favorite activities, or you begin to have suicidal thoughts, don’t sit back and wait for the spring to make things better. See your doctor right away to investigate your seasonal depression more deeply.

Resources

WebMD (Winter Darkness, Season Depression)

Healthy Place (Sadness vs. Depression: What’s the Difference?)

Mayo Clinic (Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD))

SAD.org.uk (Buying a SAD Light)

All about Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD))

AAFP (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

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145 found this helpfulby Natasha Devine on May 12, 2015
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