Seasonal Affective Disorder: What it is and How to Cope

seasonal affective disorder image girl in rain
During the winter months, the lack of sunlight can cause lower serotonin production, which is linked to feelings of depression.

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Originally published December 4, 2020

⚠️Trigger Warning: Depression

It is safe to say that winter is here! We are officially in the fourth quarter. The final countdown of 2020. I feel like this year has flown by faster than usual. And it is definitely a year to remember.

Due to the pandemic, anxiety and stress have risen for many causing many more people to make use of mental health services. (source)

In England, as of 5 November 2020, we have gone into the second lockdown. Although, this lockdown is a lot less strict than the first one; we are allowed to go outside as many times as possible for exercise. However, due to the weather, some may choose not to. Which, in turn, may have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing.

Although the end of the year symbolizes the festive season, for some it may be the worst time of year.

Related: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay During the Holidays

With temperatures dropping, the hours of sunlight becoming shorter and the weather changing, this may impact our wellbeing.

About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the winter season (source).

Symptoms include low mood, feelings of guilt and despair, lack of energy, loss of pleasure and sleeping for longer than normal. For some, symptoms may be severe interrupting daily activities. (source)

One cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is lower levels of Serotonin–a hormone that affects your mood.

During the winter months, the lack of sunlight can cause lower serotonin production, which is linked to feelings of depression.

Some individuals may be predisposed to Seasonal Affective Disorder due to genetics and a family history of depression.

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Here are 5 things that may help if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Speak with a therapist

Talking therapies are also an effective way of combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Talk to your doctor

Doctors may recommend antidepressant medication such as SSRIs depending on the severity of symptoms.

Get as much exposure to natural sunlight as possible

As the days are shorter, it may be worth waking up a little earlier to get access to as much sun as possible

Maintain a balanced diet

You want to make sure you have a balanced diet to obtain all the vitamins necessary for maintenance and growth.

Stay active

Exercise can help you manage your stress levels so it would be ideal for taking part in some form of physical activity each day.

Related: How to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The Importance of Self-Care with Seasonal Affective Disorder

In addition to treatment, it is essential to focus on your self-care.

Run a bath, meditate, write in a journal, find a healthy way of offloading.

Over this year, I have developed a self-care routine. My routine consists of eating balanced meals, meditation, exercising, including yoga and reading.

Please find what you enjoy and do try to include it in your routine.

If you are working during this time, during your breaks, try to disconnect from work and take our mind off it by doing something unrelated such as watching a tv show.

Related: 6 Tips for Self-Care in Depression Recovery

Opening Up to Others about Your Seasonal Affective Disorder

I know it’s difficult to open up to others; however, by speaking up, you may, in turn, be helping others by helping yourself.

These times are overwhelming for many, so please be kind to others and take care of yourself.

I wish you all the best for the end of this year and for the upcoming year. The best is yet to come.

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My name is Candice. I am 25 years old, and I live in London, England. I started a mental health blog a couple of years ago as a way to vent and discuss topics that were not addressed in my Caribbean household growing up. I have experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression for several years and recently, completed several sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy. I hope to provide a space for people to know more about how they too can cope with their mental wellbeing and get the help they may need. Fast forward to this year; I morphed my mental health blog to a personal development blog. I decided to focus on personal development as I am consistently looking for ways to grow in every way. Furthermore, I aim to provide advice for those who wish to become a better version of themselves. By no means am I an expert in this field, but through my studies of psychological therapies, I hope to advise readers along with a bit of my personal story.

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