Season Affective Disorder (or SAD) affects millions of people all over the world as the winter months hit. This disorder can cause low moods in the winter and fall, particularly in places further away from the equator where sunlight is in short supply.
Not only does the lack of light cause feelings of sadness and depression, but the change in seasons can also mess with your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, both of which are chemicals that help your body regulate sleep and mood. When your body clock gets thrown off kilter, these chemicals can be negatively affected.
Symptoms of SAD may include a low mood, fatigue, feeling irritable or snapping at people easily. It affects about 3% of the population per year.
If you find yourself suffering from SAD, there are a variety of things you can do to help both prevent it and stop it from getting worse.
Many people who want to avoid medication for their SAD use light box therapy. Typically, medical professionals recommend 30 minutes a day at the very beginning of the day using a light bulb with an intensity of 10,000 lux. In order to use correctly, you should place the light box 12-24 inches away from your face.
It is recommended that you use the light box while you go about your morning routine, and doctors say it can really lift your mood.
For most people, the depression will only last between 12 and 16 weeks and will clear up on its own. That’s why using light box therapy can be so incredibly helpful to get you through the rough spots.
Others may find that visiting a psychotherapist to talk about their feelings and problems may also be helpful in this situation.
It is also extremely important that if you suffer symptoms of SAD to take vitamin D supplements or eat food that is heavily fortified in the vitamin. This is because a lack of vitamin D can lead to intense feelings of depression that may not be easily rectified as it is difficult to spend as long as necessary to absorb the vitamin in the outdoors.
If your symptoms intensify to where you feel like your feelings are overwhelming, it is important that you visit a doctor as soon as possible.