Mounds of snow on the ground that never seems to melt away for months at a time, treacherous driving conditions, having to brave blisteringly cold temperatures and bundling up in layers of clothing just to stay warm.
Though spring is just around the corner, winter is absolutely miserable for many because they experience the blah’s. Not to mention the fact that some even suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
Making a Case for SAD
Piles of snow may be an ideal situation for skiers, but those who suffer from seasonal effective disorder, not so much.
What is seasonal affective disorder? It is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, but particularly during the winter months. Some even experience SAD their whole entire lives.
You may have SAD if you have a feeling of hopelessness, are unhappy or irritable, have an increased appetite, are socially withdrawn, have less energy, an inability to concentrate and have a loss of interest in activities including work, to name a few.
Is one sex more prone to SAD than another? Yes, just as with other kinds of depression, cases crop up more frequently in women than in men. SAD also affects those who live in areas where winter days are short. Affected, too are those who experience changes in the amount of daylight in different seasons.
There is no test that can diagnose SAD, but a health care provider can make a diagnosis and get a clearer picture by asking about ones history of symptoms. A health care provider also may perform a physical exam and blood tests to rule out various disorders that correspond to SAD.
Coping with the Effects
Know there are things that can be done at home, to manage the effects of SAD. This includes:
- Turning away from alcohol and illegal drugs, these may cause depression to worsen over time;
- Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet;
- Taking medicines the proper way and learning how to manage its side effects;
- Getting adequate amounts of rest each night;
- Exercising more frequently.
Shedding Light on SAD
Light therapy is another option for SAD sufferers. What is light therapy? Light therapy involves the use of a special lamp with a bright light that mimics the sun’s light. The best time to begin light therapy is during fall or early winter, just make sure you decide on a time before your symptoms of SAD appear.
Where is light therapy most useful? It is commonplace to sit just a few feet away from the light source, for roughly 30 minutes daily. Of note, light therapy is typically done in the early morning and offers the effects of sunrise.
Turning that Frown Upside Down
Here are a few tid bids of information to remember when seeing if light therapy is a fit for you. Those taking drugs that make them more sensitive to light should avoid light therapy. A check-up, too, with a regular eye doctor is recommended before starting this alternative therapy.
On the one hand without therapy, symptoms may improve by themselves because of the change of seasons. On the other hand, symptoms can improve more quickly with light therapy. But, be forewarned that symptoms of SAD should improve within three to four weeks if light therapy is beneficial to its user.
To shed even more light on the situation; if you opt to use light therapy, keep your eyes open, but never look directly into the source of light. And, for more information about light therapy, you can check-in with your health care provider. As he or she can answer any questions and give you further instructions on proper usage for optimal results.
Living to Face Another Day
As with any form of depression, opening up about your feelings to someone you trust is key. Talk therapy can help on this front because it can benefit the sufferer to express what is going on, on the inside. In some instances, anti-depressant medication also has been prescribed.
Surrounding yourself with those who are caring and positive also helps, so don’t forgo the opportunity to feel better. With that, you can volunteer your time or get involved in group activities. The notion is to seek out activities that truly make you happy and that give your life a sense of purpose.