If you usually find yourself becoming blue due to shorter days and seasonal changes, you may have suffered from Seasonal Depression. Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months when exposure to natural sunlight is reduced. The true cause of this disorder is not known, but some doctors believe it is caused by seasonal factors such as temperature, hormonal state and natural light which can influence the production of serotonin and melatonin in the body.
According to Psychology Today, seasonal depression is estimated to affect approximately 10 million Americans . Although this disorder affects both men and women, research shows that it is more prominent in women and regions that have long winters. Regardless of the facts, all forms of depression affect the quality of life so it is important to recognize the symptoms of seasonal depression to prevent it.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
The signs of Seasonal Depression vary from person to person. However, they usually include:
- Difficulty to sleep at night
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Food craving
- Loss of energy
- Body ache
- Memory loss
- Low self-esteem,
- Isolation or social withdrawal
- Difficulty in making decisions,
- Difficulty in waking up
- No sex drive
- Suicidal thoughts
How to Prevent Seasonal Depression
Light Up Your Life
It is very common for doctors to prescribe light therapy for someone going through seasonal depression. Light therapy involves spending some time in the sun, especially at noon when the sun is shining at the highest point. Whether it is sunny or cloudy. Unfortunately, it is hard to get much light from the sun during the fall and winter seasons, but there are alternative ways to get the job done.
Light Therapy Lamps mimics the effects of the sun. Leading researchers recommend 30 minutes of light from a light therapy lamp to help increase serotonin production and suppress the natural release of melatonin.
Dawn Simulators is another great way to prevent seasonal depression. Instead of being awaken from your sleep with loud music or annoying beeping, a full spectrum light dawn simulator introduces light similar to a subtle sunrise.
Eat Balanced Diet
You must also eat a well-balanced diet which has high nutritional value. A balanced diet must consist of Protein, carbohydrates, vitamin, and mineral in the right proportion. Read 18 Keys Essential Keys for a Healthy Diet.
Plan to take out at least 30 minutes of your time every day for exercise. Engaging in physical activities helps increase the flow of the “feel good hormone” serotonin thereby reducing stress. You could also find a new hobby to do during the winter to help prevent seasonal depression .
Interact with Families and Friends
Ensure to not isolate yourself from friends and families. Isolating yourself can cause you to think deeply about sad or stressful situations in your life which can cause you to slip into a depressed state. Instead find time to talk with friends and family to help take your mind away from things that can possibly cause depression.
Increase Your Intake of Vitamin D
Decreased exposure to sunshine puts you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is most known to help the body to absorb calcium; to maintain healthy bones and muscles, but vitamin D also has an important role in mental health. Deficiency in vitamin D causes many negative effects on the body including an increased risk of a depression.
Increasing your daily intake of Vitamin D can help prevent occurrences of winter blues. Although most doctors recommend a minimum of 400 IUs per day, talk to your doctor to discuss what is right dose for you.
Go For Vacation in Sunny Locations
If possible, take a break from fall and winter climates and take a vacation to a sunny and warm location.
Journaling may bring childhood memories of keeping a diary, but consistently writing in a journal as an adult have many benefits. Journaling allows you to clarify your thoughts and feelings, know yourself better and reduces stress. It does not matter what you used to journal in, but be sure to write consistently and freely.
In summary, it is essential to take the necessary steps in preventing seasonal depression before experiencing the symptoms. You can also consult your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan for you; also people who are photosensitive must ensure that they protect their skin and eyes from the sun.
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