Seasonal affective disorder is a depression type that occurs with changing seasons. Seasonal affective disorder symptoms usually start in the late fall to early winter and last until the warmer spring and summer months. While doctors don’t know exactly what causes seasonal affective disorder, they do know a lack of sunlight and light exposure as well as having a family or personal history of depression may play a role.
One: Identify Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms
Many people with seasonal affective disorder pass off their symptoms as merely the winter blues and may not realize they have an actual, clinical condition. That’s why it’s important that a person recognize the seasonal affective disorder symptoms as quickly as possible, so they can get treatments and take steps to keep their condition from continuing. Some common symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder include:
- feeling little to no energy, even after getting enough sleep
- feeling depressed most of the time, almost every day
- having little interest in activities they once enjoyed
- having difficulty sleeping well
- having feelings of social withdrawal or “hibernating”
- having difficulty concentrating
If a person also has thoughts of death or suicide, they should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department.
Two: Get Your Body Moving
Exercise has been proven to reduce the incidence of depression, including seasonal depression. When you exercise, your body releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are associated with feeling good, which can improve your mood. Exercise can both prevent and reduce seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Even if you don’t have the time or money to go to a gym, you can try different YouTube workout videos, which are usually provided for free and help prevent feelings of boredom.
Three: Use Light Cues
A lack of exposure to sunlight as well as light in general is associated with increased risks for seasonal affective disorder. Doctors may even use light as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder. One of the ways you can prevent seasonal affective disorder is by getting outdoors whenever possible. This could include taking a walk, eating outdoors, or sitting outside. Making your indoor environment brighter can help too. Turning on more lights, keeping blinds open, and sitting near windows can help.
Closing Thoughts on Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder isn’t something you should have to “wait out” until the spring comes. By getting outdoors and remaining physically active, you can reduce the incidence of seasonal affective disorder. If you do recognize the symptoms of the condition, don’t be afraid to seek help from your doctor or therapist.