Fight Back Against Seasonal Depression

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it’s not uncommon for people to suffer from SAD — that’s seasonal affective disorder. SAD “is a form of seasonal depression triggered by the change in seasons that occurs primarily in winter.” Make no mistake, seasonal depression is real depression, “It is important to treat SAD, because all forms of depression limit people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest, to enjoy their families, and to function well at work,” says Deborah Pierce, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Everyday Health offered up 12 ways to ease and treat SAD, here are a few of our favorites:

“Try Light From A Box

Light therapy boxes give off light that mimics sunshine and can help in the recovery from seasonal affective disorder. The light from the therapy boxes is significantly brighter than that of regular light bulbs, and it’s provided in different wavelengths. Typically, if you have SAD, you sit in front of a light box for about 30 minutes a day. This will stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress its natural release of melatonin.

Talk With Your Doctor

Because SAD is a form of depression, it’s best diagnosed by talking with a mental health professional. “There are a number of screening questions that can help determine if someone is depressed,” Dr. Pierce says. “Your doctor will be able to sort out whether you have SAD as opposed to some other form of depression.” 

Get Moving

As it does with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder, too. Outdoor exercise would be most helpful. But if you can’t exercise outside because it’s cold or snowy, choose a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine close to a window at the gym.

Let the Sunshine In

If you have seasonal depression or wintertime seasonal affective disorder, you’ll want to get outside as much as you can during the day and take advantage of what sunlight there is. If you live where it’s cold, be sure to bundle up, but take a stroll around the block at noon or soon after — that’s when the sun is brightest.”

Regardless of the methods you choose to ease the impact of SAD on your life, it’s critical to be proactive. Taking just a couple of the steps above can make a major difference in how you handle the transition into winter, as well as the entire season itself.