Seasonal Affective Disorder
Do these shorter, darker, and chillier days make your mood cloud over this time every year?
You’re not alone!
Roughly up to 20 percent of Americans report feeling tired or sad with the fewer hours of daylight in the late fall and winter months. With colder temperatures and crisp, blustery winds, it’s easy to give in and hit the snooze button one more time instead of dragging yourself to the gym before work — or, make a date with your couch, warm blankets, and Netflix instead of bundling up and getting dinner with family and friends.
While many people can still function even if they’re feeling a bit melancholy, for some, winter brings a clinical form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly (and ironically) referred to as SAD. Researchers estimate that at least 5% percent of the population experiences SAD symptoms during the shorter days of late fall and winter, such as fatigue, overeating, loss of interest in activities and difficulty concentrating.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to feel better and boost your mood if you’re experiencing an energy dip.
Here are some of the best recommended ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Rise and shine
The sun is rising earlier, so get up with the chickens, so to say. Bundle up and go for a morning walk around the block, to soak up some of that early morning sunshine.
Same as it ever was
Sticking to a normal routine helps keep your mood and day in balance. Don’t deviate from it if you feel blue, that’s your key to knowing you need to follow through. Don’t neglect your favorite activities just because it’s cold or getting dark early.
Garbage in garbage out
Don’t fall prey to loading up on sugar and comfort foods this time of year. Most people opt for sugary sweets because it gives them a temporary lift in mood, but come spring you’ll regret it with extra weight. Remember, you are what you eat!
Light it up
Consider getting light therapy or buying your own full spectrum UV light box. Research has shown that light therapy helps at least 50% of people who suffer from SAD. The bright light emitted from these devices helps the body awaken in the morning and decreases the hormone melatonin that keeps us asleep at night.
We don’t mean on the DVD player – get outside and enjoy yourself with loved ones this winter. From a friendly snowball fight with friends to cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, or a simple hike on a groomed Metroparks path, get out there and find joy in wintertime activities.
A little downward dog might help lift you out of your funk. Try starting yoga or meditation to get your mind and body some uplifting energy this low light and energy season.
Prepare for take-off
If you have vacation time, book yourself a trip! Quality downtime and vacation are important to recharge and boost your mood. Studies show that people even experience pleasure and stress release from anticipating vacations. While you count down the days until your warm and sunny holiday, find ways to enjoy and be happy with the winter wonderland in your own backyard.
Studies show that getting chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Our moods are regulated by our body’s chemistry; this chemistry in your organs, as well as your brain, are all regulated by the nervous system. Misalignment of the spine can cause pressure in the area of the brain stem which can cause interference neurologically and chemically.
Often people turn to medications that are used to alter their brain chemistry, but those looking for a non-medication therapy often find that re-aligning these vertebrae can do wonders for their mental state.
If you struggle with serious and continuous depressive symptoms, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss your condition and options for treatment.