Seasonal depression is a thing. Every year, without a doubt, I feel it coming on immediately after the excitement of my December birthday and the unavoidable post Christmas let down. It’s hits me hard mid January and doesn’t let up until the warmer days of Spring, when the sun finally comes out to play. It occurs the same time every year, like clockwork.
SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, feels like you’ve got the winter blues. I don’t do doctors, unless I feel like I’m dying, so this is totally a self diagnosed mild case. I just know me and my body, and my body tells me it LOVES and NEEDS the sun!
Technically, when my body gets less sunlight, it leads to less serotonin and melatonin being made in my brain (which regulates sleep and mood). It throws my biological clock out of sorts.
Knowing that life slows down in the winter (and for me, freelance work included), I know what to expect. My symptoms; feeling a bit more fatigued and feeling out of sorts or off my game. I have less energy, I feel sluggish and less motivated. I have more of a need for sleep, which leads to frequent oversleeping…totally rare in my regular every day life!
I’ve really only experienced this in my adult life. In college, the days of having double sessions during intersession (the month of January) kept my mind occupied. I didn’t think about much of anything at the time, besides basketball. But now, the gray skies, the dark winter months, the lack of Vitamin D and the short days really have an effect on me and my mood.
How to treat it?
For me, a trip to a warmer climate does the trick. It’s that simple for me. I always come back refreshed and rejuvenated. The sun does something to me! It lifts my mood for weeks after I return home. By the time it wears off, it should be warmer and sunnier!
- Light Therapy
If you can’t get to a place with some warm sun, this is your next best option. Although I haven’t personally tried this (but plan on it), my research proves it yields high results. A sun lamp mimics the sun. It triggers a chemical change in your brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms. Set it at your desk or side table and sit in front of it for 30 minutes+.
- Exercise & Eat A Well Balanced Diet
Exercising and eating well increases energy levels. Exercise starts a biological cascade of events that result in many health benefits. It releases feel-good endorphins, you gain confidence, and it’s a coping strategy for those who feel lousy. It’s an all-natural way to fight depression.
- Vitamin D Supplement
Some people think medicine/antidepressants are the answer, but for me personally, I wholeheartedly disagree. I don’t take medicine for anything (unless I’m on my deathbed). I would suggest taking a Vitamin D supplement instead. Everyone is different, so do what’s right for you. If you have more than a mild case of SAD, seek a doctor or health care professional.
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