Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that comes and goes with the change of seasons. It typically starts in late fall and continues through the winter until springtime.
Symptoms of this disorder can include decreased energy levels, feeling down or sad more often than usual, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, craving for carbohydrates, and even feeling hopeless or suicidal at times.
Fortunately, there are various treatments available that have been found to be effective in managing SAD symptoms.
In this blog post, we will discuss what seasonal depression is, its symptoms, and what you can do about it.
Symptoms of seasonal depression
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include:
Feeling down or sad more often than usual. This is one of the most common signs of seasonal depression, and not to be confused with feeling a little bit “down” for a day or two. People who suffer from SAD often experience persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and apathy that last for weeks or months at a time.
Decreased energy levels and difficulty concentrating. Low energy levels can impact both your physical and mental abilities. Many people feel like they are in a fog and have trouble focusing on tasks or staying productive at work.
Changes in sleep patterns. If you find yourself sleeping too much or having trouble falling asleep, this can be an indication of seasonal depression. Oversleeping can lead to fatigue during the day which further contributes to low energy levels.
Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. If you start losing interest in activities that used to bring you joy, such as hobbies or spending time with friends, this could be an early sign of seasonal depression.
Craving for carbohydrates and sweets. It is very common to crave high-calorie snacks when feeling down and discouraged. Eating healthy foods during the winter months helps maintain stable moods and energy levels throughout the day.
Feelings of hopelessness or even suicidal thoughts at times. Feeling hopeless is a major symptom associated with SAD, and sometimes people may even contemplate suicide as a way out from their emotional distress. If you ever find yourself reaching this point, please seek professional help right away as it can make all the difference in getting through this difficult time.
General fatigue and lack of motivation to do things: You may find yourself feeling tired all the time or just not motivated enough to do anything at all. This makes it difficult to get through your daily routine – whether it’s work, school, errands or even recreational activities – so it’s important to recognize these feelings and take action if needed.
What can you do about seasonal depression?
There are a number of things that you can do to help manage symptoms of seasonal depression. Some strategies include:
Exercise. Physical activity is a great way to get rid of negative emotions, increase energy levels and restore motivation. Even just a few minutes of light exercise each day can help you cope with seasonal depression symptoms.
Exposure to sunlight. Exposure to natural light helps regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythm which can provide some relief from SAD symptoms. Try to get outside on sunny days, or even just open the curtains or blinds in your house for a few hours to take advantage of the daylight.
Cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to be highly effective in treating depression, especially in combination with other treatments such as medication or talk therapy. It focuses on helping people recognize their negative thought patterns and how they affect their feelings and behaviours.
Talk Therapy. Talking about your feelings and experiences can be beneficial when struggling with seasonal depression as it provides an outlet for expressing emotions that may otherwise remain bottled up inside. A licensed professional therapist can also offer advice on how best to manage your symptoms and put together a comprehensive treatment plan tailored for your specific needs.
Nutrition. Eating nutritious meals throughout the day is important for managing mental health issues like seasonal depression as it gives your body the fuel it needs to stay energized and focused. Healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, or vegetable sticks are especially helpful in providing quick energy boosts during low points throughout the day.
Time Management & Scheduling. Making sure you have plenty of time scheduled each day for activities that make you feel good, whether it’s getting enough sleep, exercising, or spending time outdoors, can be helpful in reducing depressive symptoms associated with SAD by providing structure and focus throughout the week.
It is important to remember that seasonal depression is very real and can have serious consequences if left untreated. If you recognize any of the symptoms listed above, please reach out for help from a professional as soon as possible. In addition, it can be beneficial to adopt lifestyle changes such as exercising and eating healthy as well as engaging in activities that bring you joy. With these tips and resources, you can learn how to cope with seasonal depression in order to live a more balanced and fulfilling life during the winter months.
Important information for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please act immediately. Contact a mental health professional or call a suicide hotline in your area.
In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources.
You can call the Lifeline at +1 800 273 8255. They also have a chat function on their website that you can use if you do not feel like talking.
In Canada, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides resources and support to those affected by suicide.
In the United Kingdom you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline or call them on 0800 689 5652.
If you are in another country, please visit this page for a list of international suicide hotlines.