What is S.A.D and how can you get over it


How to recognize S.A.D

The season's transition is something welcomed by many. I mean, who doesn't love fall with its gorgeous colors or December with its Christmas holiday? But this transition also means longer nights, grey weather and this can trigger a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as S.A.D. 

What is S.A.D

S.A.D is a form of depression that is linked to the change of seasons. I mentioned earlier about the winter months but S.A.D can also appear in spring or summer. Although there have been many studies about it, it's not quite clear what causes S.A.D. Researchers suspect that hormonal changes can be one factor but also the reduction of light which causes a reduced serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that impacts mood. Lower serotonin levels are associated with depression and anxiety.

Another factor that plays a role in the appearance of S.A.D. Melatonin is a hormone that determines sleep mood and patterns and is produced in dark hours. Because the daylight is quite limited during the fall and winter seasons the melatonin production swells. 

How to recognize S.A.D

S.A.D symptoms might start mild (the so-called "winter blues") but they can also increase in severity, so it's always important to always check how you feel and if it's getting too much, you should definitely get help. There's absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out for help if you need it, on the contrary. Since we are still living crazy times a the moment, you can always choose online counseling if you feel like your mental health is going downhill. 

S.A.D symptoms include:

  • Low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or even guilty
  • Changes in appetite - An increased appetite especially a carbs craving during the winter months and a decreased appetite during summer. 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in your sleeping pattern - Increased sleeping hours during winter and decreased in summer.
  • Weight changes - Since the appetite is increased during the winter months, you can experience weight gain. If your appetite suffers during the summer months, you can experience weight loss. 

Can you diagnose S.A.D?

A diagnosis of SAD may be made after a careful mental health exam and medical history done by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

How to treat S.A.D

Treatments for SAD patients vary depending on other conditions the patient may have. It is known that continuous exposure to sunlight can help relieve S.A.D symptoms but in winter when we don't really have that so light therapy can be a better alternative. 

If you experience severe S.A.D symptoms, you might want to consult with your therapist and decide which is the best course of action for you. Sometimes psychotherapy can be the answer and sometimes you will also need medication. That's why it's extremely important to keep track of your feelings and seek medical help when you need it. 

There are actions all of us can take to stay healthy during the seasonal changes, whether we deal with SAD or not. Here's what you can do!

Enjoy the light

As soon as you wake, open those blinds or curtains, get the light in and spend as much time as you can outside or near a window. Make a custom of having a daily walk before 10am. That will help your circadian rhythm that is closely connected with your mood hormones.

Stay social 

I know that maybe during this period you may want to have more alone time than usual but don't! Don't close yourself and try to be social. Plan a game night, visit friends, or host a dinner party. Get out there and have some fun!

Stay active 

Physical activity activates chemicals in your body that improve mood and anxiety. Even one short walk a day can help relieve stress and improve your health. Don't forget about your mental wellbeing also! Keep your brain active! Learn a new skill, play games, read a book, anything that will keep your mind occupied.

Pamper yourself

See the positive in every situation. The days are shorter, no problem! Learn how to slow down and take care of yourself. Give yourself the chance to relax and unwind because you deserve it! Buy something that will make your colder days warmer and brighter, read books, enjoy some well-deserved me-time.

You are what you eat

There's wisdom in the old saying, "You are what you eat." In the winter months, it's especially important to introduce healthy mood-boosting foods. It's the perfect season to eat many homemade soups and stews because they help nurture your gut health and we all know that a healthy gut helps with our mental health.
Try to eat foods rich in vitamins like squash, sweet potatoes, asparagus, bananas. 
Don't forget that you attract the energy that you give off. So spread good vibes, think positive and enjoy life! You've got this!

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