Seasonal Depression is Real
As we truck through the snow and freezing cold this winter, it’s natural to feel somewhat downtrodden with spring months away. Everyone notices seasonal changes differently. While some people aren’t really affected, others find it difficult—if not debilitating—to go about their everyday lives.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was previously classified as a primary psychiatric illness. Today, however, it's considered a "specifier" that manifests in people who have recurrent depressive episodes.
Wait, so what does all of this mean?
Someone who has a depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern experiences a temporal relationship between each of their depressive episodes at a particular time of year like winter. Unlike individuals who may be depressed throughout the year, individuals who experience it with a seasonal pattern experience full remission after the season (winter) passes. For an individual to be diagnosed with a seasonal pattern of depression, he or she must have experienced two or more consecutive seasonal depressive episodes with non-depressive (normal) seasonal episodes in between.
Regardless the degree at which you experience a depressed winter, below are 3 ways to deal with the cold weather blues.
1. Get some shut eye!
I'm sure you've heard this advice before, but I'm going to say it again: a consistent amount of sleep can go a long way. While there's no exact number of hours to determine the right amount of sleep (you will know what you need), a good amount will help us process and deal with what life throws at us the next day—whether it a power outage or snow storm.
2. Sweat it out!
In addition to getting a good night's sleep, eating healthy and working out also helps keep your mind active and alert. I get it, it’s tough to schedule in gym sessions when you go to work in the dark and leave in the dark this winter. Heck, it is even harder when it takes twice as long to get to the gym due to a pile of snow standing in your way. In order to put your best foot forward this winter and improve your ability to cope, however, it is taking simple steps like breaking a sweat and eating nourishing foods that will make all the difference.
3. Plan Ahead!
Although this may not be helpful for everyone, for me, planning something to look forward in the upcoming months does wonders. Spending your spare time planning both the logistics and your outfits for a special occasion will not only keep you future oriented but also distract you from dwelling on your current sad mood.
Not everyone who feels blue this winter is experiencing a true depressive episode. However, if you or somebody you know are depressed, it would be beneficial and recommended to go see your doctor so he or she can assess and advise on the next steps. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling this winter, acknowledging their distress can go a long way.