Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a kind of depression that appears at the same time every year, usually in the winter. SAD, sometimes called Seasonal Affective Disorder, may negatively influence your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels. Everything in your life, from your relationships and social life to your self-worth and performance at work and school, might suffer as a result. Throughout the winter, you might experience completely different feelings, such as being hopeless, depressed, tense, or stressed out and showing little interest in the people or activities you usually enjoy.
The risk of developing the seasonal affective disorder is highest for those who live at least 30 degrees north or south of the equator because the amount of winter sunshine they receive declines the farther they are from the equator (north of places such as Jacksonville, Florida, Austin, Texas, Cairo, Egypt, and Hangzhou, China, or south of Perth, Australia, Durban, South Africa, and Cordoba, Argentina).
The good news is that seasonal affective disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder may be treated like other forms of sadness. This is true no matter where you live or how gloomy and chilly the winters are. Even after a thorough evaluation, it can be hard for your doctor or a mental health professional to determine if you have seasonal affective disorder. This is because some types of depression and other mental health problems can cause similar symptoms.
How to Diagnose SAD?
1. Check the body
Your doctor could look at your body and ask many questions about your health. Depression can sometimes be caused by something wrong with the body.
2. Lab testing
For example, your doctor may do a blood test called a “complete blood count” to see if your thyroid is working properly (CBC).
3. Assessment of a person’s mind
To check for signs of depression, your doctor or a mental health professional will ask about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. To assist in addressing issues, you may complete a questionnaire.
The seasonal affective disorder can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy; before giving you light therapy or an antidepressant, your doctor and mental health professional need to figure out if you have bipolar disorder. Both kinds of therapy could cause a manic episode.
5. Light Therapy
In light treatment, also called phototherapy, you sit near a light box for about an hour after you wake up every day. Light therapy, which tries to imitate natural light from outside, seems to change the chemicals in the brain that affect mood.
Light therapy is one of the first treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder that comes on in the fall. It usually doesn’t have many bad side effects and starts to work in a few days to a few weeks. Even though there isn’t much research, light therapy seems to help Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms in general.
Talk to your doctor about the best lightbox for you before you buy one, and learn about the different options and features to ensure you get a safe, high-quality device. Ask about how the light box should be used and when.
- Psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy,” is another way to treat SAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help you:
- Learn the right ways to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder, such as avoiding things less and planning activities that are meaningful to you.
- Find and change the negative thoughts and actions that may make you feel worse.
- Learn how to deal with stress.
- Add healthy habits to your daily routine, such as being more active and getting the most out of your sleep.
The antidepressant bupropion, sold under the brand names Wellbutrin XL and Aplenzin, has a long-acting form that may help people who have had SAD in the past avoid getting depressed again. Other antidepressants are often also used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Your doctor may tell you to take antidepressants before your usual symptoms appear. They may also tell you to keep taking the antidepressant even after most of your symptoms have gone away.
Remember that it can take a few weeks before an antidepressant gives you all its benefits. Also, you might have to try a few different drugs before finding the one that works best for you and has the least bad side effects.
8. Treatment plan for seasonal affective disorder
Make the area around you brighter and sunnier. Open your curtains, cut back any tree branches blocking the sun, or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to light-letting windows at home or the office.
Step outside. Go for a long walk, eat lunch in a nearby park, or sit on a bench and enjoy the sun. Even on cold or foggy days, outdoor light is helpful, especially if you spend time outside in the first two hours after getting up.
Regular exercise Stress and worry can worsen Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms, so exercise and other physical activities could help. Also, getting fitter might make you feel better about yourself, which could make you happier.
Make sleeping habits normal. Set up regular times to wake up and go to sleep every day. Cut down on or stop napping and sleeping too much, especially if your SAD starts in the fall or winter.
9. Substitute medical care
Even though it’s unclear how well these treatments work for seasonal affective disorder, some people use herbal remedies, vitamins, or mind-body approaches to reduce depressive symptoms.
Since herbal medicines and dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA the same way drugs are, you can’t always be sure what you’re getting and if it’s safe. Before you take any supplements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Some herbal and nutritional supplements may interact badly with prescription drugs or cause harmful interactions.
If you try an alternative or complementary treatment, ensure you know the risks and possible benefits. Alternative therapies are not a good way to treat depression, instead of medical therapy.
Steps to get rid of seasonal affective disorder
- Stick to your treatment plan- Follow your treatment plan and show up on time for your therapy sessions.
- Take care of your health- Get the sleep you need to feel good, but don’t sleep too much, making people want to hibernate. Join an exercise program or do some other regular physical activity. You can select meals and snacks which suit your health condition. Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs to feel better.
- Use stress management techniques- Find out how to deal with stress better. You can reduce tension and stress by using Yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, binge eating, and other bad attitudes and behaviors.
- Socialize- When you’re depressed, spending time with other people can be hard. Try to talk to the people you like spending time with. They can comfort you, give you a shoulder to cry on, or make you laugh together to make you feel better.
- Get out of town- If you have winter Seasonal Affective Disorder, try to go somewhere warm and sunny during the winter. If you have summer SAD, try to go somewhere colder.
Think about taking a trip or a “vacation.”
Kalayjian says that some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can be eased by taking a trip in the winter to a warmer place where you can get away from the cold and grey sky (SAD). Even a small break from your normal routine in a brightly lit place might help people who are depressed during the winter.
The excitement that can make you feel better may start when planning your trip and last for a few weeks after you get back, says Kalayjian. The excitement that can make you feel better can start as soon as you book your flight. For this reason, Malinowski plans to visit friends who live in warmer places during the winter.
If you had planned to travel but had to cancel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might think about taking a “staycation” instead. This means taking time off from work and finding ways to do things usually done on vacations in your neighborhood and community. What you may anticipate from your visit to the doctor.
Think About Staying Away From Alcohol.
According to Burgess, there are several reasons why people may drink more during stress or grief. According to her explanation, when someone is feeling down, they are more likely to drink alcohol, but drinking causes further depression, leading to a downward spiral.”
According to her, if you find that you are drinking on a greater number of days of the week than you did in the past or that you are drinking a greater amount of alcohol than you did in the past, these changes could eventually lead to an addiction.
It is essential to figure out what motivation drives the conduct. She recommends asking yourself about Seasonal Affective Disorder; according to Burgess, speaking with your primary care physician might also be beneficial if you have concerns about a drinking issue.
Wrapping It Up
Your primary care physician or a mental health expert will ask you more questions depending on your replies, the symptoms you describe, and the assistance you request for Seasonal Affective Disorder. You will be able to get the most out of your appointment time if you prepare ahead of time and anticipate questions.