Five Simple Ways to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that correlates to the winter season. Anyone can experience SAD, but the condition is particularly present in women, those who live in certain locations where daylight during the winter is short, those with a close relative who experiences SAD and those between the ages of 15 and 55.
SAD causes and symptoms
Doctors and other experts in the medical field aren’t entirely sure why SAD occurs, but it’s generally believed that it’s caused by a lack of natural sunlight which can upset a person’s biological clock (sleep pattern) and decreased levels of serotonin, a chemical that occurs naturally in the body and stabilizes mood. Symptoms of SAD include:
• Weight gain
• Difficulty sleeping
• Difficulty concentrating
• Loss of interest in hobbies
• Feeling sadder or more anxious than usual
If you believe that you are experiencing seasonal affective disorder, please contact your provider at Pacific Family Practice today. SAD can be diagnosed after a blood test to potentially rule out other conditions which can mimic seasonal affective disorder symptoms, such as hypothyroidism.
Ways to beat SAD
- Light therapy – Patients are exposed to bright light from a light therapy box that mimics natural sunlight. Many patients find light therapy to be very helpful in improving their mood from day to day.
- Medication – Medication is typically not the first recommended course of treatment, but for those who find SAD to interrupt their daily routine and significantly lower their quality of life, medication may be recommended.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is a known mood-booster and is known to relieve the impact of stress and anxiety. Regular exercise can consist of 30 to 60 minute walks, swimming, bike rides and more. A gym membership isn’t necessary to get in shape and relieve SAD symptoms.
- Spend time outdoors – Rainy, cold weather can make time spent outdoors seem unpleasant, but these weather conditions are rarely constant across the winter months. Making an effort to get outside during the work or school day when the weather is nicer, even for 15 to 20 minutes, can help relieve SAD symptoms.
- Adjust the home environment – Opening window blinds, trimming trees so branches do not interfere with sunlight and sitting closer to windows while spending time at home are small steps to relieve SAD symptoms during the winter months.