While the Fall and Winter seasons bring happiness to some, it is not uncommon for others to feel down in the dumps. The shorter days and colder weather can trigger a chemical change in the brain leading to depression symptoms. This feeling is known as seasonal depression.
In a given year, about 5 percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression, which generally occurs in the Fall and Winter months. Symptoms typically include:
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Increased sleep and low energy levels throughout the day
- Irritability and anxiety
- Trouble thinking or concentrating
- Weight gain
- Social withdrawal
If you or someone you know struggles with seasonal depression, it is important to make the effort to get these symptoms under control because over time they will begin to negatively affect your daily life. Seasonal depression can affect your work, social relationships, family life, and even your health.
Below are some tips to mitigate seasonal depression this holiday season and get back to living your life to the fullest.
Talk with a doctor
Because seasonal depression is a form of depression, it is best diagnosed by a mental health professional. A doctor will be able to confirm whether or not you have seasonal depression, another form of depression, or just feeling the winter blues.
A proper diagnosis of seasonal depression is made after careful mental and medical history examinations done by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.
Get yourself on a schedule
People with seasonal depression often have trouble falling asleep and waking up in the morning. This could be due to the decrease in sunlight disrupting your body’s internal clock. Less sunlight can also disrupt your body’s serotonin and melatonin levels which affect your mood and sleep patterns.
Keeping yourself on a schedule can help to maintain a regular sleep schedule and expose you to light more consistently everyday. A regular daily schedule can also prevent overeating by consistently eating at regular intervals.
Create a healthy environment
Your environment includes your home, work, and any other place you spend your time. A healthy environment should bring you feelings of relaxation, safety, and focus. Your environment has a huge impact on your mood and it can help or hurt your seasonal depression.
Eat a healthy diet
While no specific food or diet can cure seasonal depression, a healthy diet and good overall nutrition is essential for your mental health. Your brain needs vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to stay healthy and function properly.
A healthy diet provides you with a variety and balance of high quality foods that give your brain and your body the fuel to carry out daily life. A healthy diet includes lean proteins, complex and low glycemic index carbohydrates, and heart healthy fats.
Regular exercise can positively impact your sleep, mood, energy levels, weight and overall health. Exercise lowers stress hormones in your body and also releases endorphins, which help your body produce positive feelings.
Incorporating just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help improve your mood among other symptoms of seasonal depression. There are endless amounts of physical activities that you can do for exercise;
- Lifting weights
- Recreational sports
- Rock climbing
- Bike ride
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that generally occurs in the Fall and Winter months. Symptoms can include loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, low energy levels, anxiety, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and issues focusing. After a proper diagnosis from your doctor, you can lessen the symptoms of seasonal depression by acquiring a daily schedule, creating a healthy environment, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise.