Seasonal depression is popularly known as a seasonal affective disorder. It is more than the mere ‘winter blues’ and affects over 11 million people in the U.S. Certain hormones created deep inside the brain triggers changes related to attitude at specific times of the year. It usually sets in during Fall and continues till Winter. Some of us can also face this during Spring and early Summer. There is a significant change in mood. You might feel distracted, irritated or overwhelmed. It affects the way you feel, think or carry out daily activities. It usually impacts women more than men and lasts for 40% of the year.
The ‘classic’ form of depression involves sleep, lethargy, and appetite disbalance, lack of interest in life and dark thoughts. You might also exhibit compulsive behavior. One major reason could be the lack of sunlight during the winter days. The brain starts producing less serotonin that betters the mood. On the other hand, the sweltering heat is the main cause of summertime depression.
Signs and Symptoms
Seasonal depression signs are not different from that of normal depression. You might tend to sleep a lot more than usual. Knowing the other tell-tale signs is crucial because too many depressed people do not recognize and fail to get help. Take a look.
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Feeling sluggish and agitated
- Having low energy and feelings of hopelessness
- Experiencing major changes with weight
- Suicidal thoughts and desire to be alone
- Limbs appearing heavier than usual
People dealing with summertime sadness might end up being violent. You can experience anxiety, weight loss, restlessness and agitation too. Seasonal depression can be a form of maniac disorder or bipolar disorder. This is when your mood and behavior change rapidly. You are less likely to feel these during the rest of the year.
How to Deal with Seasonal Depression?
The first line of treatment is effective counselling. You can expect rapid relief in the hands of a professional. The best professionals offer cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness and meditation training, dialectical behavior therapy, and interpersonal therapy. Sometimes physiological approaches like light exposure and exercise are also helpful. Try not to be ashamed to seek help since it can worsen the situation. Talking to a therapist or counsellor is the smartest thing you can do to ensure high-quality life.
Prioritize your social activities and fill the months with fun activities. This can include hiking, kayaking, walking your dogs, and participating in community events. Consider in-person interaction more than online ones. Avoid isolation and go out often.
Stick to a specific schedule. Fall asleep and get up at a particular time. Eat, exercise and go to work timely. These will ensure structure and discipline that go a long way to boost your mental health. Staying in a fixed schedule can help alleviate the symptoms of depression too.
Aromatherapy, sunlight exposure and avoiding alcohol can ease the discomforts too. But the best way to manage depression is to work with a therapist. It can keep you from suffering a life-long struggle and enjoy a happy and healthy life ahead.