At the end of the year, it is common for people to experience the often misunderstood condition of seasonal depression.
According to Boston University, around 10 million Americans experience seasonal affective disorder yearly. And while most people recover naturally after the season passes, others continue to struggle with symptoms throughout the rest of the year.
As a result, daily activities can become more difficult, sleep patterns suffer, and even the risk of suicide goes up.
Many treatments are available for seasonal depression, including light therapy, antidepressants, and electroconvulsive therapy.
But before you go looking for treatment, you should first understand why you feel depressed in the first place.
This guide will help you explore the various treatments available for seasonal depression and find the best ones for you.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder. Another name for it is Winter depression, as it is mostly suffered during the fall and winter months. People suffering from it feel sad, anxious, and depressed.
As you would expect, depressive symptoms such as low energy levels, fatigue, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating are commonplace. Some people even become disinterested in pursuits they used to love. Social withdrawal is also often reported.
The symptoms are similar to those experienced by people with major depressive disorders. However, unlike major depression, seasonal affective disorder tends to occur only during certain seasons, typically autumn and winter.
Will I Only Suffer From SAD in Winter?
While seasonal affective disorder is most commonly experienced in the fall or winter, some people experience this disorder in the spring and summer months. Essentially, there are different patterns of SADS, including winter patterns and summer patterns.
Winter pattern SAD is characterized mainly by hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, social isolation, and other symptoms.
In contrast, summer-pattern SAD is characterized mostly by insomnia, poor appetite and restlessness, anxiety, episodes of violence, and other symptoms.
How Is SAD Treated?
SAD treatment options include:
- Light therapy is possibly the most well-known treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This method involves exposing oneself to natural sunlight for 30 minutes every day. Therapy with natural light intensity works best for mild to moderate cases of SAD.
- Transcranial bright light therapy is a more effective form of light therapy that can be administered by a mental health professional.
- Negative air ionizers produce negative air ions, which are charged particles in nature. They are believed to improve mood and reduce stress.
- Dim light simulators of sunset have also been shown to shift circadian rhythm and help people sleep better. Sunrise simulator devices could be an effective alternative for those who cannot take medications or undergo other treatments.
People who suffer from SAD sometimes awake at night due to the lack of daylight, which may lead to insomnia, fatigue, and irritability. Sunrise simulators provide a natural source of light to help alleviate symptoms.
Treating Seasonal Depression at a Therapy Center
While there are many low-cost and self-administered options to treat SAD, their effectiveness is debatable.
A good therapy center can offer a broader range of treatments under professional supervision to give you the best seasonal depression treatment options available.
For example, at NeuroSpa Therapy Centers, we offer medical advice and a range of professional treatments to push back the winter blues:
- Talk therapy with a qualified mental health professional
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change your mindset and improve your Winter seasonal mood. SAD patients develop better ways to manage stress and cope with anxiety.
- Functional medication addresses both the neurological and physical root causes of your seasonal pattern of depression
- TMS Therapy is a proven therapy that can help many types of depression
Lifestyle Changes to Alleviate Seasonal Depression
If you’re suffering from SAD, it may be helpful to make some living adaptations to cope with your melancholic depression.
These changes will help you get through the seasons without feeling miserable.
- Exercise has been shown to increase vitality levels and decrease feelings of lethargy. It can also help you sleep better. If physical exertion is new to you, take your time adapting to a healthier way of living.
- Craving carbohydrates increases in winter. But healthy meals will aid your neurological functioning.
- A regular self-examination, including your physical condition, symptoms, and behavior patterns, will help you decide if a change of seasons has also induced this anxiety disorder.
Year-Round Mental Health
Seasonal depression treatment options include light therapy (exposing oneself to bright lights), antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Light therapy has been shown to work well for mild cases of seasonal affective disorder, but it may take several weeks before its effects become noticeable.
Antidepressants have also proven effective for treating SAD, although their efficacy varies from person to person.
Psychotherapy is another option, though it takes longer than medication or light therapy to see results.
If you think this seasonal affective disorder is holding you back, contact us for a free consultation.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.