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How To Know If You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) And What To Do About It

Here we are, in the dead of winter. Snow. Ice. Cold. Dark. Ugh. I find myself wanting to stay under the covers later in the morning and longing for my bed earlier in the evening. In fact, I often fantasize about not leaving my bed at all! The desire to go for a walk or cook dinner each day becomes a strenuous activity.

If you feel the same, you need to take steps to protect yourself against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Getting less sun and natural light can influence the body’s production of melatonin. Less interest in exercise this time of year reduces the endorphins we get when we exercise, which help prevent experiencing the depression that comes with SAD. Feeling exhausted but sleeping more is common. If you have noticed a pattern of recurring symptoms like this, year after year, you may need to take steps to cope with SAD.

SAD affects 1% to 2% of the population, typically more women and young people yet, men can have more severe symptoms. The symptoms of SAD are similar to major depression. Feeling depressed can be overwhelming and has different causes and contributing factors. Always seek the help of your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

How You Can Ease Your Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms:

    • Exercise: Try and brave the cold for a brisk morning walk, you’ll get the benefits of sunlight along with the endorphins from exercise.
    • Ask your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
    • Get as much natural light as you can by sitting next to a window at work or consider a device that simulates natural light.
  • Eat a healthy diet with energy boosting foods such as complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables deep green or orange like broccoli, kale, and carrots.
  • Stimulate your senses with aromatherapy energizing scents like peppermint.
  • If you vacation in sunny climates, consider vacationing during midwinter.
  • Find a therapist that will help you begin changing thought patterns around the darker seasons.

At New Milford Counseling Center, we’re trained to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder and can help you get through the difficult experiences you may be facing. Call us today for an initial consultation so we can talk more about the unique challenges you’re going through and how we are able to help.

Rebecca Wade-Rancourt is an LCSW and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Western Connecticut State University. She specializes in working with women struggling with life transitions, anxiety, and difficulty with their partners or children. She sees clients for family & individual therapy, addressing mood disorders and complex relationship dynamics. She is the Co-Founder & President of New Milford Counseling Center.