Winter Depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder

sad winter blues-seasonal affective disorder

Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from what is known as the winter blues, winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Discover how to lessen its effects and find your happiness.

SAD, short for seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression with symptoms beginning in the fall and lasting through the winter months.

In this article, presents the symptoms of SAD, the definition of depression, treatments that alleviate its symptoms, and useful contact information to reach out for professional help.

What is Depression

Depression is different from sadness. Sadness becomes depression when you experience it for the majority of the day, every day (or nearly every day), when this goes on for 2 weeks or more, when you are distressed by your symptoms, and when you have experienced a negative impact in your life.

Symptoms of SAD

Depression can disrupt your productivity at school, work, or home, and socializing or recreation also becomes more difficult as your motivation is reduced by your condition. Symptoms of most forms of depression may include:

  • Loss of motivation to engage in the activities you were once interested or liked doing.
  • Changes in your sleep routine.
  • Changes in your eating habits.
  • Frequent feelings of fatigue.
  • Reduced abilities to make decisions, remember, or concentrate.
  • Experiencing illness or physical ailment with no medical reason.
  • Experiencing heightened irritability.
  • Experiencing feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, worthlessness, guilt, sadness, or anxiousness.
  • Strong thoughts or contemplation of death or suicide.

Depression, just as other ailments, has treatments. There are many combinations of psychotherapy, medication, and counseling. While those who are dealing with depression may not see a way out of it, identifying that there is a problem is the greatest step toward a solution.

While absolute causes remain a mystery, the disruption of your circadian rhythm can play a significant role in the loss of your sleep pattern. A disturbance in your sleep schedule may result in a decrease in serotonin and melatonin, both of which help to stave off depression.

Family history and bipolar disorder may also influence the likelihood of experiencing SAD or other forms of depression.

If you feel down for a prolonged period of time and can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially true if you begin to have suicidal thoughts, start to lose sleep or your appetite begins to decrease.

Alternative Therapy and Treatment for Depression

The following are some of the therapy and treatment options to help reset your emotions and regain lost energy:

Phototherapy (Light Therapy) – Light therapy has the potential to affect brain chemicals linked to both mood and sleep, easing depression symptoms. The use of a light therapy box may also help with sleep disorders and other conditions. Phototherapy is also known as bright light therapy.

Yoga – Yoga teaches you to manage your breathing which can help energize you when you are feeling down or help calm you amidst feelings of anxiety.

Reflexology – This type of therapy works to stimulate pressure points in the hands and feet, being that the nerves in the hands and feet are related to various parts of the body. The belief is that the natural healing process is stimulated through this therapy.

Acupuncture – This therapy stimulates the body's ability to resist or overcome illness by correcting chemical and physical imbalances. It also moves the body to produce chemicals that diminish and sometimes eliminate pain.

Exercise – Exercise can lower stress, increase your energy level, reduce depression, and increase the ability to relax. Exercise is a safe and easy method to improve your health and well-being. Before beginning a new exercise program, always check with your primary care physician.

Anything you can do to lift your spirits and help your body fully relax will help you beat the winter blues. There are times though when we need another person to guide us through the recovery process.

Crisis Hotlines and Recovery from Seasonal Affective Disorder

For one reason or another, those who have found themselves in a depressed state will often isolate themselves from their friends, family, and coworkers, all of whom may be able to help.

Isolation can worsen the effects of depression and lead to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The deeper the state of depression becomes, the more lost one may feel, not knowing where to turn.

depression seasonal affective disorder

A substantial part of the recovery process involves acknowledging that there is a problem and reaching out to someone who can be trusted to help you get the weight off of your chest. For those who have no idea where to start, the following helplines provide free and confidential services 24 hours a day.

The benefits of reaching out to a hotline include:

  • Speaking with a person who understands the problems being addressed.
  • Confidential and anonymous help.
  • Locate a counselor or treatment center close by.
  • Obtain referrals and guidance.
  • Find more information on depression and mental health disorders.
  • Discover how depression may be linked to other disorders.
  • Learn how depression is treated.
  • Discover what you can do to help someone dealing with depression.

The following links and phone numbers may offer you the guidance you seek:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663

Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are suffering from depression, it is imperative to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and that there are people always willing to help you find relief and happiness.

In this article, you discovered the definition and effects of depression, treatments that help alleviate feelings of depression, and important contact information to people that can help 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Whether you are depressed, having harmful thoughts (including suicide), or are seeking help for a loved one, the faster you get started, the easier the path to recovery will be. Waiting for the right time may result in catastrophic results.