Hello, my friends…
Today, I wanted to discuss a topic that is important to me. Being that we just experienced the time change, it is the perfect time to talk about SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I have struggled with SAD for as long as I can remember, but over the last several years I have learned some tricks that help me make it through the winter. I also wanted to mention that there is such thing as summer SAD. SAD does not just happen because you’re upset that it’s winter. SAD means your body responds to stimuli like light and temperature differently.
I’m happy to say that my seasonal depression has not been unbearable over the last few years. As a child and through middle school (and a bit into high school) I suffered from mood swings, insomnia, and a lot of crying episodes. Now, I’m sure some of this was hormonal. However, when winter hit, my depression always became much worse.
There are a lot of reasons why the seasons affect our brain. The one most frequently talked about is lack of daylight. I am going to be upfront and tell you that I used to use one of those special lamps for SAD. They are very expensive and they get very hot. My therapist told me recently that you would have to sit in front of that lamp for about nine hours each day to make up for what the sun would give. I’m sure having one helps a little bit, but I never noticed a real difference in my mood.
To keep SAD at bay, I recommend two things: exercise and just forcing yourself to stand outside (within reason). When I say within reason, I mean don’t go stand outside in ten below zero for the sake of combatting SAD. But if it’s cold, bundle up. Walk some laps in front of your house. Park a little further away from the store so you have to walk more. Most of us have lives that involve being indoors or in the car a lot. In my town, you have to drive to get around. But even if it’s only a few minutes, actually being out in the fresh air will do much more for you than an artificial lamp.
And as for exercise, I recommend doing something that will get you warm and sweating. So maybe a power yoga class or cardio at the gym. The movement will help your body produce more “happy chemicals” to compensate for the lack.
I am not a professional so I can’t promise everything I’ve talked about is 100% medically sound. Nonetheless, I’ve done a ton of research on this and have experienced it firsthand. If you have SAD, you can try some of the tips I mentioned. I also really recommend finding a good counselor. You may have to try a few, and it might be hard to find someone that’s covered by your insurance, but once you find the right therapist you will find it is much, much easier to work through things.
I wish you all the best this winter and as always, never hesitate to reach out. I am always here.