Getting Ahead of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Nobody likes waking up before the sun and going home from work when it’s already dark. In the wintertime, it’s something you can’t escape. This often takes a toll on many people, causing an extreme version of the “winter blues” known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. This season-related depression is most prominent in the fall to winter seasons and can express itself in varying degrees. That being said, it’s still possible to feel these effects in the springtime or even summer. Being aware of the symptoms and causes is the first step to being able to manage it.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
While the symptoms and extent of SAD vary from person to person, there are some common ways to identify if you are suffering from it:
Low levels of energy is one of the most common symptoms. Because we get a lot of vitamins and energy from daylight, the lack of it often deprives us both mentally and physically.
Oversleeping is a result of low levels of energy. Often times, because of the extended dark hours, people find themselves lounging around and sleeping longer hours. Oversleeping often reduces levels of energy even more.
Cravings and overeating is another way that seasonal affective disorder expresses itself. “Eating your feelings” is a common result of feeling hopeless or depressed. People often experience weight gain during the winter months and no, it’s not just because of holiday desserts.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are a multitude of reasons you could develop seasonal affective disorder. Recognizing how each of these elements of the season could make them easier to cope with.
Reduced sunlight is one of the biggest factors that cause seasonal affective disorder. In the wintertime, because of the reduced hours of sunlight, we often get little to no Vitamin D. Amongst other aspects of your overall health, Vitamin D has a major impact on your mood. Without it, people find themselves depressed and lethargic.
Lower levels of activity is another result of reduced daylight. Most people don’t find the time to get outside and get active. Lower levels of activity can cause weight gain and allow tension and stress to build up.
Increased stress and emotions around the holidays is another common occurrence that cause the winter blues. Whether it’s the stress of having to spend more money on gifts or the numerous social occasions, the business of the season can take its toll. The holidays are also a time when people miss loved ones that they have lost, furthering the stress and sense of sadness.
How to Manage Your Seasonal Depression
While you can often feel hopeless when you’re affected by seasonal depression, there are ways to work to reduce and manage your symptoms and mood. Knowing what the causes and symptoms are is the first step. Try taking these measures to reduce your risk of severe winter blues.
Keeping a routine is the best way to stay on track. Though you may be tempted to sleep longer hours or go home instead of the gym after work, keeping consistency in your life can help reduce the effects of the change of the seasons.
Staying active should remain a prominent part of your routine. Because you’re spending less time outdoors doesn’t mean you should spend less time being active. Working out and keeping up with activities you enjoy is a way to release the endorphins and serotonin you may be missing out on in the winter months.
Self care is an important way to reduce stress and maintain a positive outlook. Whether you seek out relaxation therapies like massages, yoga, and meditation or more medically based therapies, there are ways to reduce stress and stay focused on the positive. Seeing a counselor or seeking out light therapies that counter act the effects of the lack of sunlight are great techniques to manage your mood.
Chiropractic is much more than a way to find relief from physical pain. The release of tension throughout the body and restore balance to the nervous and hormonal system – a great release of stress!
Find out more about how chiropractic care can help relieve your stress and improve your mood any time of the year, explore our stress relief section and reach out to a doctor near you!
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