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How To Make It Through The Winter If You Have S.A.D.

How To Make It Through The Winter If You Have S.A.D.

S.A.D. is the strangely appropriate acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mental health condition that affects millions of people. People who suffer from S.A.D. experience symptoms of depression during the winter months, particularly due to the lack of sunlight. For these people, the winter can be a long and difficult time, with the illness greatly affecting their ability to carry on normally with their lives.

 

How Do I Know If I Have S.A.D.?

 

It’s important to distinguish Seasonal Affective Disorder from a case of the winter blues. Many people dislike the cold or lack of daylight hours, but do not experience symptoms of S.A.D. According to Psychology Today, S.A.D. is only diagnosed to people who have experienced a significant increase in depressive symptoms during a particular season (usually winter, but a few people have S.A.D. in spring or summer) for at least two years.

 

These symptoms include fatigue (even with enough sleep), weight gain due to food cravings, and low moods. If you think you may have S.A.D., this test can be a good place to start, but you should also go see your Psychologist or doctor, who will be able to recommend a course of treatment.

 

Forms Of Treatment

 

Treatments for S.A.D. include depression medication, counseling, and light therapy. The latter involves using a lamp that replicates natural sunlight for a few minutes every day. There are various models on the market to choose from at various price points. This guide by Health summarizes the highest-rated ones on Amazon.

 

It’s important to see a doctor and seek formal treatment if you are suffering from any mental health problem, including S.A.D. However, there are also many things you can do independently at home to help you get through the winter.

 

Self-Care For S.A.D.

 

Self-care is extremely important for people who suffer from any form of depression, and it becomes even more crucial in the winter. It can take many forms, the most important ones being:

 

  • Exercise– Regular exercise has been shown to help with symptoms of depression, and is thus a useful tool against S.A.D.
  • Sleep-Changes in winter light can affect sleep cycles, which is believed to be one of the main causes of S.A.D. Oversleeping is a common problem, as is spending too much time in bed without sleeping. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule that gives you 7-8 hours of sleep a night, avoid lying in bed if you are not sleeping, and use relaxation techniques to fall asleep more quickly at night.
  • Diet – S.A.D. can cause people to crave carbohydrates, which can lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain. Focus on eating complex carbs, like oats and whole grains, which keep you full so you won’t overdo it with empty calories.

 

However, self-care is also about the smaller things, like treating yourself to a new haircut to cheer yourself up. There are also some particularly useful habits you can pick up, such as meditation, especially a form called transcendental meditation.

 

Getting through the winter with S.A.D. is not easy. The symptoms can leave you fatigued, bloated, moody, unfocused, and, well, sad. Anyone would have a hard time staying happy and productive in those conditions. However, there is hope. Effective treatments are available, and proper self-care can make a huge difference in managing the symptoms. If you believe you are affected by this illness, don’t hesitate to get help as soon as possible in order to make this winter as pleasant as possible.

 

This article is a Guest Post by Kimberley Kayes

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