For most of us the clocks were rolled back this weekend. Blah. The day may seems to begin earlier and the evening will start to remind us of its presence as darkness rolls in before most would like. The combination of the temperatures dipping and decreased exposure to daylight presents challenges for many of us out there. Our bodies innately crave sunlight and when you live in certain parts of the country hibernation mode can kick in. This is where S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) makes its entrance.
From now until the beginning of April the increase in young people I work with struggling with the ongoing peaks and valleys of sadness, depression, and angst is off the charts. Frequently they think something seriously wrong with them and there is a frustration with why they cannot simply snap out of it. When you combine that with an already present condition such as depression or anxiety this time of year becomes a dreaded stretch of time on their calendar.
S.A.D is alarmingly present and only increasing in prevalence. So what does it look like and what are some strategies to take if it’s something you or someone you care for struggle with it? es
Symptoms of S.A.D:
- Feeling sad
- Sleeping excessively
- Edgy, irritable
- Socially withdrawing from things, people
- Switch up in eating patterns – usually increase in carb intake (sweets, breads, pasta, etc.)
- Weight gain
- Easily overwhelmed
These symptoms are typically triggered with the change of seasons, in particular the time change combined with the onset of winter. If these thoughts are ongoing professional help should be sought.
Seasonal affective disorder and ways to cope:
- Limiting length of sleep / nap time to avoid excessive sleeping
- Melatonin (consult your physician first)
- Spending fifteen minutes a day (minimum) outside for fresh air and some exposure to the sun
- Have a wingman that can providing encouragement as well as that needed push to engage in interests and socialization
- Seek out a doctor if this is ongoing or if thoughts of self harm surface.
- Medication can sometimes be prescribed at certain times of year whether one suffers during the fall or the summer.
In a culture of ongoing stress and responsibilities it can be frustrating when struggling with something that feels like an inconvenience and is just simply dragging you down. Make yourself a priority and when that happens the ball can begin to roll in the right direction. There are some things in life that you can’t simply snap out of or wish away and that’s when being proactive is vital.
If S.A.D. is impacting you or someone you love, take the appropriate measures to ensure that it’s not ignored and help is not delayed. Life is fleeting and fragile. Make yourself the priority that you deserve to be.
Peace, love and goodness.