Do you find yourself feeling down during the fall and winter months? Does the term “winter blues” seem to be a tangible experience for you? If so, you may be experiencing seasonal depression. What? Seasonal depression? Yes! This diagnosable medical condition occurs in individuals who experience depression in the darker months of the year. Scientifically, many people experience feelings of sadness and general depression in fall and winter when they are exposed to less sunlight. If you typically make it through the Thanksgiving holiday but begin to feel awful by Christmas, you may be experiencing seasonal depression. Writing therapy likely won’t work. If December is a tough month, if buying presents is a highly stressful experience for you, you may be an excellent candidate for the seasonal affective disorder test. If you’ve ever wondered “Why am I so Sad?”, the answer may indeed be seasonal depression. The winter blues are a real thing: here’s how to treat depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Test
SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a medical condition defined by an individual who is adversely affected by the amount of sunlight in a given period. In short, SAD is a recognized form of depression that affects individuals based on the seasons of a year—hence the name Seasonal Affective Disorder. Since the sun sets earlier in the fall and winter, the days are darker longer; an individual receives less exposure to sunlight, and can, therefore become depressed. Signs of depression may include an ongoing fatigue, a lack of interest in activities, a general sense of indifference or apathy to the world, and an overwhelming sense of loss or disinterest in one’s own life. Tangible signs of depression can include excluding friends and family from one’s life, failure to show up for classes and/or work, not returning calls, failing to show up for obligations and/or plans with friends and family, and a desire to withdraw from life in general. This may take the form of staying in bed all day and not returning phone calls and/or texts from people in one’s life. Seasonal Affective Disorder typically presents in the middle of the fall season and continues throughout the winter months when days are shortest. SAD is typically the worst when the days are at their longest; when it begins to become dark at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., individuals suffering from SAD notice that it is harder to complete regular, routine aspects of their life such as getting up in the morning and attending classes or work. These difficulties typically resolve themselves during middle to late spring into early summer. As the days become longer (and hence brighter), an individual notices a reduction of symptoms contributing to his or her depression. By mid-summer the symptoms and depression vanish, enabling an individual to carry on with his or her life without incident or medical intervention. Seasonal depression relies heavily upon the amount of light available; the more sunlight an individual can experience in a given timeframe, the less likely her or she is to experience seasonal depression. If you find yourself at the whims of winter blues, it may be a good idea to request a seasonal affective disorder test. This test will not only help you answer the question “Why am I so sad?”, but it will also provide a definitive avenue to help you address any depressing thoughts you may be experiencing during certain seasonal months.
Why Am I So Sad?
Well, common symptoms of seasonal depression can combine to make an individual feel extremely sad. Common symptoms related specifically to seasonal affective disorder include increased irritability, noticeably low energy, and the tendency to oversleep most days out of the week. Additionally, individuals affected by SAD also report weight gain among other symptoms. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a close friend or family member, it may be time to seek help—especially if these symptoms appear during late fall and stay throughout the winter season.
The Winter Blues
During high school and college, it can be difficult to separate stress from the winter blues. However, it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of growing depression. Untreated winter blues can exponentially increase into a more serious depressive condition; therefore, it’s very important to be able to recognize how to treat depression and combat seasonal depression as soon as it arises. Here are four easy steps any student can take to fight seasonal depression as soon as it is recognized:
1. Talk to a Medical Professional
While your primary care physician may seem like the first choice, if your insurance covers a psychologist, consider talking to a licensed psychologist first. Since depression is a condition rooted in the brain, it’s best to talk to a licensed medical professional that deals with seasonal depression on a regular basis.
2. Consider Light Therapy
Light therapy, or phototherapy, basically involves sitting in front of a specially designed light box. This light box flashes bright light to make the brain and the body experience light as though it were a different season. If the body doesn’t think it is experiencing winter, it’s less likely to trigger responses related to seasonal depression. If you’re committed to battling the winter blues, light therapy just may be the perfect weapon in your arsenal.
3. Behavior Modification
Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a couch potato during the fall and winter. Instead, commit to activities demanding physical participation. Go to a gym; sign up for yoga or martial arts classes; swim several times a week. You want to know how to treat depression? Connect. Meet others, go out, get off the couch and out of your dorm room or house. Seasonal depression is real and affects many young adults worldwide; however, some individuals living with seasonal depression find connecting with others helps to dull and eventually eradicate the ramifications of the depressing winter blues.
4. Take Supplements
Research shows that vitamins in the B family can help combat mild to moderate seasonal depression. Injections are more effective than oral vitamins due to the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin family. Melatonin sleep aids may also be effective in helping combat irregular sleeping patterns due to seasonal changes. Talk with your medical professional to ascertain the best melatonin dosage during sleeping times. A full bio-available vitamin supplement may be beneficial as well to help the body combat seasonal depression as well.
If you or someone you know may be living with seasonal depression, it’s imperative to discuss the symptoms with a medical professional. The sooner you consult with a medical professional, the sooner he or she will be able to help you get back on track. It’s a good idea to keep track of your symptoms; the more you can share with your medical professional, the better.