For those who suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, fall and winter can be a tough time. Shorter days and changes in weather can cause a lack of energy and mood swings. With an abundance of treatments at your disposal there is hope in curing or at least helping your condition. Many factors of SAD, whether it be your Circadian Rhythm or an imbalance of brain chemicals, can be treated in a variety of ways. Without further ado, let's jump into this disorder and discover how it can be treated appropriately.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a recurrent mood disorder that typically affects people in the fall and winter. There are those who are affected by this same disorder in the spring and summer; however those cases are sporadic. Symptoms of SAD include but are not limited to, decreased energy, lack of concentration, weight fluctuation, increased fatigue, and sleep cravings.
Otherwise known as light therapy, phototherapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for those suffering from SAD. Research has shown that sitting in front of a light therapy box for thirty minutes a day, preferably in the morning, can activate your Circadian Rhythm and suppress the release of melatonin in your brain.
Mimicking sunlight or forms of natural light that you'd receive in the spring or summer can assist those suffering from SAD. Dawn simulators are a type of alarm clock that wakes you by gradually increasing the amount of light in your room. The purpose behind this alarm clock is to wake you more naturally with light, versus waking up instantaneously with ringtones or music. Many senior living facilities have large beautiful windows and individuals can open the windows and blinds to let in more natural light.
Another fantastic way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder is by aromatherapy. Oils from aromatherapy can influence the limbic system in your brain, which in turn control your mood and circadian rhythm. Adding a few drops of essential oils into a bath is a great way to find some relaxation at the end of a long day. Oils from the Poplar Tree especially, have been scientifically proven to help depressive disorders.
Although any form of exercise would be beneficial towards treating SAD, exercise outdoors if possible to maximize wellness. Additionally, exercise is a great way to eliminate the worry of weight fluctuation associated with SAD, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you find yourself struggling to exercise indoors, either at a gym or home, trying moving toward a window to soak up the essence of the outdoors.
Create a Daily Schedule:
For those that have trouble sleeping as a result of their seasonal affective disorder, creating a daily schedule and abiding by it can do wonders for you. It's easier to get more sleep if your day is scheduled out. Instead of waking up in the afternoon and missing the best parts of your day, come up with set times to wake up, exercise, eat, etc.… so that you can enjoy natural sunlight and sleep soundly at the end of the day.
Travel Somewhere Warm:
Visiting warmer climates during the winter season can improve the attitudes of those affected by seasonal affective disorder. If you are looking for a change of scenery, no matter how long it lasts, a vacation might be for you. The anticipation of your trip can leave you feeling better in the days or even weeks before you depart. Correspondingly, you may feel better in the days/weeks after you return home as well. Everyone needs a vacation at some point, if your SAD is making you feel down and out consider a vacation, if possible, to give you that boost.
Those who eat more fruits and vegetables are more likely to avoid issues related to anxiety and depression. Produce in general is an excellent source of healthy nutrition and has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. So if you are feeling down and are unable to exercise, try including more natural produce in your diet, as you may experience similar benefits to exercise itself.
Participating in philanthropic work is an excellent way to brighten your mood. Assisting others who haven't been fortunate in their lives can give you a new perspective on life. Volunteering can also be an excellent cycle-breaker for those suffering from depression. Actions supersede motivation, and sometimes all you need to do is get out and about, regardless of reason.
Create an Uplifting Music Playlist:
Allow the music to take you away. Whether you snap your fingers, tap your foot, sway your hips, or whatever movement it may be, allow yourself to be in a state of spaciousness to relax. Many songs contain lyrics that provide positive and uplifting messages, choose whichever songs feel most relevant to you so that you have a playlist for your more difficult days.
Talk to Those Close to You:
Make sure to communicate with those who are close to you. If you are suffering from symptoms associated with SAD, there is no shame in reaching out to a loved one for help. Internalizing feelings is a horrible way to handle stress and anxiety; opening up to those who care about you is an excellent way to erase doubt and make sure your voice is heard.
Contact a Medical Professional:
If you have attempted all or some of the amateur treatments listed above with little to no success, then it may be time to consult a medical professional. SAD is a severe disorder that should not be taken lightly if self-medication tactics aren't having any effect on your disorder don't hesitate to contact a doctor. Medical professionals are immensely more knowledgeable on the subject, and they have exclusive access to medications that can help with seasonal affective disorder.
As fall and winter fast approach, it's essential for those who are affected by SAD to prepare themselves. Any of these suggested treatments above can offer some form of help to those in need. Having said that, everyone's case of SAD is unique in its own right, and a treatment that works for some may not work for others. This is why it is imperative that you contact a medical professional for help if your symptoms feel too significant to overcome on your own. Just remember that help of all kinds is out there and whether or not you can self-medicate your diagnosis or not, the proper treatment is within reach.