As we have now officially made our goodbyes to our old friend, Summer, and said hello to our new buddy, Autumn, we are entering a beautiful new season filled with happiness-for some, anyway. While most people look forward to everything Fall holds - colorful and crinkly leaves, pumpkin patches, Halloween movies and big sweaters - unfortunately, others are (not!) looking forward to months of depression and feelings of despair.
Before I really get into this article, let me begin by explaining what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), aka seasonal depression, is. Seasonal depression is a mood disorder that happens every year around the same time. It typically occurs during the fall/winter time, but seasonal depression can occur in the spring and summer, too. The causes of SAD are still unknown, but theories point to hormones in the brain that trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of the year. Another theory is that the lack of necessary amounts of sunlight during fall and winter lead to the brain making less serotonin, which is a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood. Because the lack of enough daylight during wintertime is related to SAD, it's actually less often found in countries where there's plenty of sunshine year-round.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, like every other mental disorder, is incredibly difficult to live with. Not only is your life altered negatively, people don’t think of it as or believe that it’s a legitimate illness, which can be incredibly frustrating for the sufferer. Even though I am not (yet) a doctor or psychiatrist, I do have some knowledge on dealing with seasonal depression, and if this article can help even one person, I’d be content.
Tell somebody you trust, like a parent, friend or even school counselor. Start a journal or log. Talk to your pets or someone online. Don’t keep quiet about this. Talking about your feelings and emotions, especially negative ones, makes you feel less alone. You have to have someone to go to when you need to; you have to have an outlet.
Life has a funny way of working itself out. You know when you get sick and you can’t remember what it feels like to be healthy? And then when you get well again, you can’t remember what it feels like to have a cold? What about how in the summer you can’t imagine what it’s like to have to bundle up before you leave the house, or what snow is like? And then in the winter, you can’t remember what it’s like to sweat after five minutes of being outside, or what jumping into a pool is like? That’s how life is. Things are a certain way for so long and then they change into something completely different. If you are struggling with seasonal depression - or depression in general - just remember that things will always get better. It will take some time, yes, but it will happen.
Celebrate the little things in life. Cut yourself some slack. Be proud for managing to do little tasks if they’re difficult feats for you. Recognize that you are working very hard to make it minute to minute. Be proud of yourself for choosing to do so. Know that people love you. Know that things will brighten up (literally and metaphorically) with time.
Hopefully this article will help anyone who is dealing with this right now, or knows that they most likely will be in the near future. Please know that you are not alone in this, and that you have people that love and care about you so much. If you ever need to talk to someone about anything, I am always available. Much love ❤