While some people see winter as a festive time full of holiday cheer and snowy sparkles, for many people, the approach of winter signals the beginning of seasonal affective disorder. A form of situational depression that occurs regularly at the change of the seasons, a seasonal affective disorder typically strikes during the shift from summer into fall and winter. For people unaffected by it, the disorder can seem foreign, but those suffering from it often experience the full range of depression symptoms. Here are some facts for those unfamiliar with seasonal affective disorder, as well as some ways sufferers can deal with the symptoms.
The Legitimacy of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of seasonal depression chiefly brought on, scientists suspect, by the change in light dynamics as the nights lengthen. While its onset is also due in part to a general sense of melancholy from gloomy weather and colder temperatures, the disorder differentiates from situational depression (which does not require medication, can be experienced by anyone, and can be caused by a variety of external factors) by its fundamentally internal cause. In other words, people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are more susceptible to seasonal changes, which affect the delicate dynamics of their body. Despite the apparent levity brought on by its acronym (SAD), seasonal affective disorder is recognized as a genuine disorder and subset of major depression.
Self-Care and Seasonal Affective Disorder
One of the most potent ways to battle seasonal affective disorder, as well as depression in general, is to push through the listlessness and lack of energy and make a determined effort to practice a regular self-care routine. Self-care — which consists of the basic, everyday things that help keep your body and mind healthy, like getting enough sleep, exercising, and minimizing stress — will give you an extra boost of energy and positive chemicals that will help you overcome the disorder. It’s essential that you make time for self-care each day, even if it is something as simple as going to get a haircut. One way you can make it easier to follow a routine is to create a weekly self-care checklist with different actions you can check off. Not only will this help keep you organized in your routine, but it will also give you a small boost of endorphins every time you check off a successfully completed action.
Other ways to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder
The first step to every day is getting out of bed. Even if you experience SAD more severely in the mornings, make a determined effort to start your day with a small victory — get up, brush your teeth, take a shower, and get dressed. You can make it easier to wake up on time if you stick to a particular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Also, another common side effect of the various forms of depression is a general distancing of oneself from social activities. Even if it seems like more you can handle, try to reach out to your friends or accept their invitation to spend some time together. Expanding your social circle doesn’t mean you have to go all out — even something as simple as cooking dinner together can reduce your loneliness, increase your sense of belonging, and help overcome your seasonal affective disorder.
While seasonal affective disorder may seem debilitating at times, it is important that you make an effort to stick to a healthy routine. Take care of yourself, eat well, and spend some time with friends and family. While this may not completely cure your seasonal depression, it will help you feel better to take it one day at a time.