Seasonal depression also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a type of depression that is triggered by the seasons changing. For some, symptoms usually start in the fall and tend to get worse in the winter and end in the start of spring. It is pretty normal to feel down during colder months, it is dark, and you are usually stuck inside. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects your everyday life like any other depression. Signs to look out for:
- Having problems sleeping
- Behaving irrationally or impulsively
- Low energy
- Feeling sluggish or irritated
- Feelings of hopelessness
- No interest in activities or socializing
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
There are a few causes to this type of depression. A difference in serotonin levels. When a drop in serotonin levels happens, it affects your mood. This drop can be triggered by the reduced sunlight that tends to happen in winter. The changes in season can also change your melatonin levels. Melatonin plays a big role in your body’s sleep patterns and mood. Another cause is from the change from something called your biological clock. When you have less exposure to the sun your biological clock shifts. This clock regulates your mood, sleep and hormones.
Tips to manage seasonal depression
Get into a routine
Since symptoms include sleeplessness, laziness, etc. keeping sleeping, eating, and even exercise schedule can be a great way to combat those feelings and minimize the symptoms. This is a lot easier said than done, and can be a challenge, but worth it.
Connect with others
Try to talk to people you love and trust. You can call, text, or zoom your loved one or friends to express your concerns of your mental health, or just to spend time with. A movie night, or dinner could be a great way to connect with people.
Practice mindful meditation
A really effective way of managing depression is mindful meditation. It allows you to focus on the good things in your life, and help you navigate the many ways depression is affecting your life.
Journaling is a great exercise to let go of negative thoughts and bring in positive ones. The University of Michigan Depression Center recommends 20 minutes of writing a couple of days a week. You can write down your thoughts, concerns, positive and negative feelings.
Aromatherapy is a great way to help with seasonal depression. Essential oils can affect the part of the brain responsible for your mood and your biological clock which can also affect your sleep.
With a lot of different forms of depression, exercise is a great way to help with seasonal depression too. Outdoor exercise could be the best but if the weather is too cold or there are bad conditions, a treadmill or at home exercises can be beneficial too.
Seek professional help
Talking to a mental health professional can help you work through your feelings of depression. Depending on the patient a medical professional can also prescribe you with antidepressants.
The best questions to ask a healthcare provider:
- Should I take anti-depressants?
- What can I do to feel better?
- What treatment is best for me?
- When should I start treatment?
- How long should treatment last?
At Spring Hills, we understand that winter can be the most wonderful time of the year but can also be depressing for those that are away from family. We aim to prevent the feelings of isolation and depression that many of our resident’s experience during this time of the year by creating a nurturing environment with fall, Halloween, or Christmas decorations and pay special attention to the individual needs of every resident and their families. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and we are working to do everything in our power to make even a socially distanced holiday, a happy, healthy and safe one.