Approximately one in five American adults (roughly 43.8 million people) are affected by mental health conditions, and during the winter, many people experience something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can manifest itself in many different ways. Here's what you need to know about recognizing the signs of seasonal depression and managing your symptoms.
Know the Factors of Seasonal Depression
First, it's important to recognize that seasonal depression and SAD have three main factors: lower serotonin levels, melatonin overproduction, and vitamin D deficiency. These factors can have major impacts on the body and speak volumes when it comes to discovering the most effective treatments."People with the condition usually have lower levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, energy, sleep and digestion. Because these individuals have less serotonin, their brains are less effective at managing their mood, energy and sleep patterns. In addition, many people with SAD over-produce melatonin, a chemical that encourages sleep. This can make them feel more fatigued and disrupt their circadian rhythms. Finally, many people with seasonal affective disorder are deficient in vitamin D, which effects mood and energy and helps facilitate melatonin production. Because this vitamin is absorbed from sunlight, the short winter days can compound deficiency," writes Kelly Burch on The Fix.
Use Innovative Resources
Next, in addition to traditional remedies, don't underestimate the powerful effects that some recent innovations can have on your depression symptoms. U.S. e-commerce revenue is about $423.3 billion and steadily climbing, so if you have a bit of extra cash to spend after the holidays, consider browsing online retailers and investing in a light box or a dawn simulator. Both of these devices are designed to improve the body's circadian rhythm. A light box provides bright lighting that's so natural that your body thinks of it the same way as outside light. A dawn simulator slowly brightens the room as you awaken to simulate a real sunrise. Both of these inventions can help to essentially 'trick' the body and assist in regulating its internal clock. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor about other devices designed to treat symptoms of seasonal depression.
Keep Your Mind Occupied
Some experts say that carrying out the same exact routine every day can have a negative impact on your SAD symptoms. That being said, try to keep your mind occupied and inspired; one great way to do this is by rearranging parts of your home or planning other home improvement projects. About 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, according to a Houzz survey, and even making a small change like moving your bed or sofa closer to the window can make a difference in your mood. You can also feel free to change up the entire layout of your living room or bedroom if you feel a spark of creativity. Creating a soothing and relaxing aesthetic environment can contribute to overall wellbeing.
Reach Out and Stay Connected
In a 2016 Mintel Diet Trends survey, 70% of respondents agreed that a strong support system is essential to achieving diet goals, and a similar mentality applies when it comes to treating symptoms of seasonal depression. Whether you talk to your family members, friends, or even just your doctor about what you're feeling, reaching out is the first step to getting the help you need to stay happy and healthy throughout the winter season. Don't ever be afraid to lean on friends and family members for support as well as your therapist for medical advice. Up your number of sessions if you see fit, and try to prioritize self-care as a whole.Ultimately, your doctor or therapist can provide the most customized treatment advice based on your specific symptoms and medical history. Still, keeping these tips in mind gives you a good place to get started and keep your health in mind through the rest of the season.