Getting diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD can be a downer. Seasonal affective disorder is depression, typically occurring during the fall and winter. People tend to have it during the months when there is less natural sunlight.
You may believe you have SAD and are unsure where to start. Before we dive into how to avoid and treat SAD, here are some of the symptoms:
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent seasonal affective disorder. Yet, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.
1. Take Care of Your Physical Health
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are critical for maintaining your mental health. But these things can also help you avoid developing seasonal affective disorder.
Exercise can help improve your mood and energy levels. Staying active is especially important to rev up your endorphins during fall and winter. In addition, exercise can often offset feelings that can lead to bouts of SAD.
Eating a healthy diet can also help keep your energy levels up. Just ensure you fill your body with the proper nutrients, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Furthermore, getting enough sleep can help you feel rested and rejuvenated. So establish a consistent sleep schedule to regulate your body and make it harder for SAD to take root.
2. Take Medication as Prescribed
You can’t always prevent seasonal affective disorder. Yet, taking your medication as prescribed can help lessen the symptoms if you have been diagnosed with the condition.
Some people with seasonal affective disorder take antidepressants. Others may take medication to help with sleep or energy levels. For example, anti-anxiety medication or something natural like melatonin can aid in sleeping better.
Psilocybin may also ease depression. Using it can help improve your mood and reduce symptoms of SAD. Veriheal details how psilocybin can combat depression and SAD.
Before trying anything, including natural medications, talk to your doctor. They can discuss with you any potential side effects of the medicine.
3. Get Some Sunlight Every Day
One of the best things you can do to avoid seasonal affective disorder is to get some sunlight daily. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, exposure to natural light can help improve your mood and energy levels. If you can’t get outside, try sitting near a window.
To maximize the benefits of sunlight, get outside during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. However, don’t stay outdoors too long. Even though it’s winter doesn’t mean you still can’t get sunburned! Remember to apply sunscreen when you plan to soak up vitamin D.
4. Consider Light Therapy
Light therapy is a treatment for seasonal affective disorder. It involves exposure to artificial light. Light therapy can be done with a special light box that emits bright light. The lightbox is usually used for 30 minutes to an hour each day. It is most effective when used in the morning.
This type of therapy works by resetting the body’s internal clock. Plus, it improves mood-regulating chemicals in the brain. It’s generally considered safe, but it’s essential to talk to your doctor before starting it.
5. Make a Plan
Once you know what can trigger your seasonal affective disorder, you can make a plan—detail how to avoid or minimize your exposure to those triggers.
For example, you may know that being indoors all day worsens your symptoms. So, plan to get outside for at least a few minutes each day. Or, it may be that being around certain people makes your symptoms worse. If that’s the case, plan to limit your exposure to those people.
Avoiding triggers can help reduce your symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
6. Talk to Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you’re feeling down during the winter months. They can determine if you have SAD and how to treat it best. Also, they can monitor your condition and ensure you take the necessary steps to manage your symptoms. Use them to your advantage by being honest about your feelings. That way, they can offer the best courses of treatment.
So, there you have it. These are six things you can do to avoid seasonal affective disorder. If you think you may have SAD, talk to your doctor. They can help you make a plan to reduce symptoms.