Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is cyclical and related to changing seasons. While not everyone will have recurring depression related to seasonal changes, it’s not uncommon to feel “blue” as fall turns into winter. Clocks get turned back and we’re getting up before the sun and driving home from work in the dark. Motivation slumps and engaging in daily activity may fall to the wayside. Not everyone who has this mood and mental health cycle may be diagnosed with SAD, but individuals can feel sad and in a depressive state from time to time during winter, and some may experience SAD.
Symptoms that can be related to SAD that are closely related to depression include:
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
- Motivation for enjoyable activities is lessened
Particularly in the winter, symptoms can also include:
- Low energy
- Over-eating or unhealthy eating
- Increased sleep
- Feeling hopeless
- Social withdrawal
There are a variety of therapies available for depression, and SAD as a type of depression. If you feel your symptoms are becoming a concern, or you experience a depressive state for more than a few weeks, it may be best to seek therapeutic attention. Light therapy, Vitamin D, psychotherapy, and medication may be appropriate. For those individuals who feel mildly affected by SAD, turning to coping strategies can help.
Using coping strategies can help to lift your mood. You may not go from sad to happy in a few minutes, but if engaging in coping strategies helps you to be less sad, that is a success. What coping strategies have worked for you in the past? Are there activities that have brought you joy in the past? Do you like to exercise? Read? Escape by watching movies or television? These are helpful if you have found pleasure in them before. Other coping strategies to consider using are:
- Engaging in activity every day such as exercising, organizing a space (closet, drawer)
- Taking a hot shower or bubble bath, pampering yourself with a manicure or pedicure
- Get creative with drawing, writing, painting, crafting
- Play board or card games with family and friends
- Do breathing or grounding exercises, practice mindfulness
There are many more coping strategies. The goal is to find a handful that you can do and that you enjoy. And don’t be afraid to make a list you can add to and reference as needed!