Six percent of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), while 14 percent suffer from snow depression. Even among the non-SAD population, feelings of listlessness, lifelessness, and low motivation are common during the winter months, when the mercury drops out of sight, and the sun hides its warming face for 14 to 16 hours at a time. In Alaska, where even the icicles have icicles, and the moon sometimes rules the sky for 20 hours or more without interruption, up to 10 percent of the population reports symptoms consistent with mild-to-severe seasonal affective disorder. More than just the wintertime blues, SAD is a medical condition that destroys happiness, undermines achievement, and sabotages relationships. If, during these months of cold and darkness, you’re feeling overwhelmed by sadness, have trouble fulfilling your responsibilities, or feel like a stranger inside your skin, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.
Risk Factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Research finds that people with seasonal affective disorder have trouble regulating a key neurotransmitter responsible for moods. Some people are more at risk than others for SAD. If you find yourself with symptoms and any of the following risk factors of seasonal affective disorder, consider speaking to professionals at the mood disorder treatment center in TN:
- Females are diagnosed four times more often than men
- Living further from the equator exacerbates symptoms
- Family history of depression
- Other diagnoses of depression or bipolar disorder
- Young adults, from children to teens, show an increase in SAD
Do-It-Yourself Guide to Overcoming SAD
If you fear your sadness is turning into SADness, you may need to be evaluated by a professional therapist at a mental health treatment center in Tennessee. But in the meantime, here is a list of suggestions that can help chase away the wintertime blues for both the mildly depressed and the SAD entrenched:
- Get outside and “enjoy” the pleasant weather: If you have to bundle up in enough layers to make yourself look like the Michelin man, so be it. It is important to get out—preferably into the sunshine—no matter how low the temperatures are because if you don’t, you will convert your house from a home into a prison.
- Follow Sheryl Crow’s advice and soak up that sun: Take full advantage of the natural light of the day; open the curtains in every room and move your most comfortable chair into the area of the house where the sunlight is the brightest. For as long as it stays or disappears from the sky, the sun is your friend and the enemy of cold-season despondency.
- Let those light boxes light up your life: Get inspired by Debby Boone’s hit release “You Light Up My Life.” One of the best antidotes to wintertime blues is lighting up a lightbox. They cost $50 to $100 when purchased new, but that is an investment well worth making for those suffering from the disheartening pain of seasonal affective disorder.
- Drastically reduce your consumption of sugar: A healthy diet, in general, improves mood, but the emotional ups and downs caused by sugar consumption can be especially damaging for those suffering from any depressive condition.
- Exercise, either indoors or outdoors or preferably both: One meta-review of the available evidence found that as a treatment for depression, exercise produces results that compare favorably to psychological therapy or anti-depressant medications. And if the form of exercise you choose gets you outdoors (ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.) into the sunshine, so much the better.
- Practice activities that promote mindfulness: Yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis, progressive relaxation, tai chi; all of these activities help to reprogram the brain even as they improve energy levels and boost motivation. Seasonally-depressed minds and bodies are in a psychologically-induced funk, and anything that restores physical and emotional balance is bound to have a virtuous effect.
- Take a family vacation: Going somewhere warm with the ones you love makes sense, but a skiing vacation or a winter camping trip could have an uplifting impact as well. The most important thing is to get out of the house from time to time, diversifying your life experiences, and living your dreams of fun and excitement.
Making the SADness Go Away
Depression at any time of the year punctures and deflates the spirit. You don’t have to suffer through any mental health disorder like SAD. The Ranch provides individualized treatment centers with the following programs:
- Mood disorder treatment program
- Depression treatment in TN
- Bipolar disorder treatment
- Dysthymia treatment program in PA
- Personality disorder treatment in TN
In such a situation, mental health treatment repairs and encourages willpower with plenty of smart strategies. Contacting The Ranch for treatment is within your power to improve your health. Trained professional assistance may be needed to help you complete your journey back to wellness. Call 1.844.876.7680 to take an active and creative role in your healing.