December 14, 2017

Don’t Let SAD Darken Your Mood

General Health

Winter can bring about changes in our behavioral health

When winter approaches, do you glide into a gloomy mood? Do you crave starchy foods? Do you sleep more and notice changes in your energy level? If the shifting seasons seem to affect you this way, then you might have SAD.

Dark Moods and Other Symptoms

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression. It shares common symptoms with standard, non-seasonal depression, such as a depressed mood and trouble concentrating.

However, people with SAD also tend to have other symptoms. These include increased appetite, weight gain, lack of energy and a tendency to oversleep.

Doctors aren’t certain what causes SAD. But many believe a disrupted “body clock” – or circadian rhythm-caused by seasonal changes may be to blame. Limited daylight and outdoor activities during the winter months are often blamed for SAD.

Ways To Lift Your Spirits

If you think you might have SAD, call your doctor. One treatment option involves light therapy. Research shows that light can help get the body clock back in sync. Some doctors actually prescribe a type of “light box,” which can be easily used for a short morning period.

Other people may benefit from getting outside each day for 20-30 minutes during daylight hours. There are other ways you can treat SAD on your own:

  • Try not to think about how bad you feel. Instead, distract yourself with your favorite hobbies.
  • Be more active. This can be as simple as walking your dog or hitting the gym for an hour. Some research shows that an hour of exercise can have the same positive effect as antidepressant medication. It’s worthwhile to look at this option with your doctor.
  • Get back to basics with good nutrition. Less sugar and unnecessary junk food can help with mood stability. Seeing a nutritionist is helpful.
  • Spend time with others. This can improve your mood if you have SAD, and it may even help prevent SAD in the first place.

If you need to talk, don’t be afraid to seek out a professional therapist. He or she can provide you with common-sense suggestions and motivation to begin living fully again.

If you think you have symptoms of SAD and would like to seek treatment, call the Fort HealthCare Behavioral Health Center at (920) 563-9532