SAD sufferers often experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe depression, moodiness, anxiety and irritability during certain months of the year, generally between September and March.
If you suffer from seasonal depression, you’re not alone. According to the American Academy of Physicians (2010), 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, and another 10 to 20 percent experiences mild symptoms of SAD.
If you experience symptoms of SAD, consult your doctor. SAD is a form of depression that can be managed and treated a variety of ways. Medical researchers have been unable to identify precisely what causes SAD, so treatment typically focuses on reducing symptoms.
If you’re suffering from SAD, the following may help alleviate your symptoms:
- Add more lights to your home: A prime suspect for the cause of SAD is the decrease in sunlight that occurs in late fall and winter. Compensate by brightening your living environment.
- Exercise more frequently: Regular exercise has plenty of benefits that you already know about, but it can be crucial in managing seasonal depression and fighting off the worst of the symptoms of SAD. If it’s cold outside, bundle up and take a 30-minute walk three times a week. SAD sufferers who take walks outside fight the symptoms of SAD in two ways-by getting more exercise and as well as exposure to more natural light.
- Practice stress management techniques: Since stress can worsen depression symptoms, relaxation therapy and meditation can help relieve these symptoms. Take a yoga class or meditate over the winter if these activities calm you. Stay in touch with your “support system” of family and friends–the people you enjoy being with.
- See your doctor: If you’re a SAD sufferer who experiences severe symptoms of SAD, seek the help of a medical professional. As with other forms of depression, SAD can worsen and lead to other problems with relationships, school or work and your everyday quality of life. To help you with managing seasonal depression, your doctor may recommend treatments like light therapy or medication, both of which have been shown to reduce symptoms of SAD.
American Academy of Physicians. (2010). Mental health: Depression. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/mentalhealth/depression/267.printerview.html.
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Retrieved July 10, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195/DSECTION=1.
Williams, D.(2010). Research leading to help for SAD sufferers. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychology_everyday_life/62132.