Some call it depression, some just call it the winter blues. Feeling not yourself when the cold weather hits is actually pretty common. However, if that feeling turns into depression and begins affecting your daily activities, it may be something more serious. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real problem, so getting ahead of it can save you months of despair.
At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, our expert team of doctors helps you conquer your depression with several treatment options. Once our doctors diagnose the problem, they’ll offer you tips to ward off the sadness associated with the winter months.
All about seasonal affective disorder
SAD is a type of depression that occurs only when the seasons change. This disorder most often affects you in the fall and winter months; however, it can also affect your mood in the spring and summer months. SAD is more than just feeling a little down; it’s truly a physiological and emotional disorder that often requires treatment.
So how do you know if you’re suffering from this condition? Symptoms include:
- Feeling depressed
- Loss of interest
- Trouble sleeping
- Moodiness or agitation
- Low energy
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
Other symptoms specifically attributed to winter depression include oversleeping, weight gain, and excessive tiredness. Although the cause may be different for everyone, it’s believed that increased melatonin levels and decreased sunlight, which causes a serotonin imbalance, may be the main causes of this disorder.
Tips on prevention
Although it seems like an impossible feat, it’s completely feasible for you to prevent SAD from occurring. There are several strategies that can keep the winter blues away, and allow you to enjoy life through all of the seasons.
Since decreased sunlight may be a contributing factor to this disorder, one of the first things you can do to prevent depression symptoms is light therapy. This is also known by the name phototherapy, and it’s achieved through a device called a light box. There are several of these on the market, but make sure you get one that’s approved to treat seasonal affective disorder.
The light box should also contain white or blue lights, and omit at least 10,000 lux, which is 100 times stronger than your average light bulb. You’ll want to sit in front of it for at least 20 minutes per day, and get as much light exposure in the morning as possible. Repeat as necessary to keep your symptoms at bay.
There are other ways you can keep the seasons from getting you down, and along with light therapy, they can be very effective at improving your mood. Other tips include:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Avoid excessive carbohydrates
- Stay physically active
- Don’t withdraw from other people
Sometimes, these tips alone are just not enough to keep your disorder dormant, and you may require other treatment for your symptoms.
Other treatment options
If you’re still having depression symptoms even with home treatment therapies, you may benefit from a medical consultation. At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, our doctors are well equipped to treat your seasonal affective disorder.
After a thorough exam, our team may recommend light therapy, along with medications to help your symptoms. These usually include antidepressants; which one will depend on how severe your symptoms are and how you react to the medication.
Psychotherapy is another form of treatment that may help fight this disorder. The most helpful form is known as cognitive behavioral therapy, and it focuses on changing the way you think and improving your coping skills.
Sometimes, a combination of therapies is the best way for you to overcome the sad feelings related to seasonal change. Getting the appropriate help is imperative to getting better, and to conquering your negative emotions.
Don’t suffer another winter dealing with depression. If you need help with seasonal affective disorder, call our office today at 919-446-3232, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.