Well, here we are again. Another holiday season has come and passed and the only thing that's merry and bright in my life right now is the Christmas tree in my living room, still lit up as if Christmas wasn't three weeks ago. Being a Midwesterner has its highs and lows. It's nice being able to count on snow at least once before Christmas, but it's awful knowing you've got at least six snowstorms coming at you in the three and a half months following. It's hard keeping spirits high when every day is gray and cold.
If you notice your mood lagging down more than usual around this time of year, you are not alone.
About five percent of the U.S. population experience symptoms of seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every single year. That's about 16.5 million people.
So, what is SAD exactly? It's a subtype of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, but most people experience it during the winter months. It can make you feel fatigued, low energy, moodiness, and a number of other symptoms. Essentially, it reinforces your already-lazy winter behavior, and it makes you want to stay in bed for the rest of the season. It can really suck the life out of you.
There are several different methods that have been known to help treat SAD. First, you should talk to your doctor about what you're feeling and be honest with them and yourself. Your doctor might prescribe a new medication or perhaps some physical activity. Keep an open mind to their suggestions, even if you're feeling discouraged about your mental health. It's a complicated headspace to be in, but don't let it get the best of you. Your doctor wants to help guide you to a peaceful place in your mind, so be open to suggestions and advice, even though you know what's best for you in the long run.
Many people who have SAD say the best treatment is sunlight. During the winter months indoors, there isn't a lot of exposure to direct sunlight, which is a good source of vitamin D in humans! When there's that lack of vitamin D, you'll begin to feel sluggish. I'm aware not everyone has the budget or time to schedule a mid-winter vacation due to lack of positive energy, but you still need to set aside time devoted to making yourself feel good. You might also consider investing in a light-therapy energy lamp! These lamps emit bright white light that helps your boosts your mood and make you feel like you've been laying on the beach all morning.
No matter what's got you down this winter, remember that it is only a few more months until we're back to sunny and 75-degree weather. Do your best to make the most of the cold months! Enjoy leggings and hot-coffee season while it lasts and keep your chin up! Summer is just around the corner.