“Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.” – Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons. The symptoms of SAD commonly begin in the fall and continue through the winter months. Symptoms include: low energy, irritability, heavy, “leaden” feeling in arms or legs, oversleeping, overeating, drop in libido.
It is normal to feel down from time to time, but it you feel depressed for multiple days at a time and can’t get motivated to do the activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor.
Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, one important factor seems to be sunlight, or lack thereof. The decrease of sunlight in fall and winter might disrupt our biological clocks, leading to feelings of depression.
5 remedies for SAD:
1) Get outside and soak up the sun as much as you can. Even on cold and cloudy days outdoor light can help. Bundle up and take a long morning walk—this is most effective within the first two hours of waking.
2) Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open the blinds during the day and sit near windows. Invest in a “dawn simulation” clock that slowly brightens like the rising sun.
3) Try a new centering activity—yoga, meditation, massage. Stretching, breathing, and the power of the human touch are often underrated, but have immense healing influence.
4) Get out of the darkness for a while by taking a trip to a warm, sunny locale.
5) Schedule social activities throughout the winter. When you feel depressed, social engagement can be daunting, but social support and friendship are some of the best ways to curb depression and loneliness.
Remember, the dark months of winter can seem foreboding, but it will be spring before you know it.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer” –Albert Camus
Written by Catherine Clubb-Brown, Forward Counseling intern
Photo courtesy of sleepcare.com.