At CSG, we emphasize not only great food but also health and wellness. One part of staying healthy is keeping your mental health in check, which can be difficult during the cold, dark months due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. This disorder is often aptly shortened to SAD.
What is SAD?
SAD or Season Affective Disorder is often brushed off as the winter blues. But, SAD is a real disorder and should be taken seriously. The combination of dark mornings and nights and chilly weather can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and hopeless. In most cases, SAD symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer.
Why does it happen?
It is unknown what specifically causes SAD, but there are a few factors that may come into play. The reduced level of sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. Another factor could be serotonin levels, which is a brain chemical that affects mood. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. The change in season can also disrupt the balance of the hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
What can I do?
If you are only experiencing a mild case of SAD, there are some home remedies that can relieve some of the symptoms including:
– Open the window. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
– Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
– Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.
It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.