Tips to Ease Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends around the same time every year so don’t brush off that feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Symptoms of SAD— In most cases, SAD symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, some people have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses and may include:

  • Feeling sad or down nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

Factors of SAD — SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men and occurs more frequently in younger adults than in older adults. Factors that may increase your risk of SAD include:

  • Relatives and family history
  • Having a major depression or bipolar disorder
  • Living further from the equator
  • Having low levels of Vitamin D

Tips for SAD — The following tips can help manage or even prevent the symptoms of SAD:

  • Open blinds or sit closer to bright windows at home and in the office to make your environment brighter.
  • Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun.
  • Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Schedule reliable times to wake up and go to bed each day. Especially for fall‐winter‐onset SAD, reduce or eliminate napping and oversleeping.
  • Learn techniques to manage your stress better. For example, you may try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi and meditation. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, overeating or other unhealthy thoughts and
  • When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to be social. Make an effort to connect with people you enjoy being around. They can offer support, a shoulder to cry on or shared laughter to give you a little boost.
  • If possible, take winter vacations in sunny, warm locations if you have winter SAD or to cooler locations if you have summer SAD.

Behavioral Health Systems is the parent company of Safety First. BHS offers Mental Health and Substance Abuse benefits to employers along with Employee Assistance Programs.