How to Deal with the “Winter Blues” aka SAD
*This conversation is sponsored by Verilux*
Winter can be rough. And by rough, I mean more than just the snow, ice, and cold. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, seriously effects 4-6% of people in the US. Around 20% of people suffer from a milder form of SAD.
Personally, I have a milder form of SAD. I have major depression which does effect me year round. While I’m a big believer in getting medically treated for depression, I also know that you have to want to be better. But during the winter time, it becomes a little bit harder for me to make that extra effort.
To ‘officially’ have SAD, you have to show pretty serious depressive symptoms for two years. That would be the 4-6%. But I believe that you know yourself the best and if you can tell that you tend to become depressed during the winter months, you are probably part of that 20%.
Symptoms of SAD are basically the same as ‘normal’ depression.
- low energy
- over eating + weight gain
- feeling like hibernating instead of doing things you enjoy
So what causes SAD?
- A drop in serotonin which can be caused by lack of sunlight
- The overproduction of melatonin which can be caused by lack of sunlight
Aka, blame the sun.
Luckily, there are a ton of ways to help combat SAD. The most basic ways are to stick to a schedule (waking up at a specific time and going to bed at a specific time) and exercise. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy (and to finish the quote….happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.) Yes, I totally just quoted Legally Blonde.
One of the most common ways to treat SAD is to use a light box. I’ve started using a Verilux Happylight Liberty lamp. I try to use it every weekday for at least 30 minutes a day. Because I work from home, from my desk, it is easy for me to turn it on during my first half hour of work. Some days I also use it for a bit after lunch, especially on the dark, cloudy Michigan winter days.
It is recommended that you use your light box between 20-60 minutes a day. I’d start with 20, see how you feel and add more as you feel is needed.
I’ve found that when I use the light box during the afternoon, it also helps give me a boost to keep me awake. I get tired a lot, which doesn’t bode well when you have to work.
No matter how you decide to treat SAD, it is important that you treat it. Try a light box. Talk to your doctor. But please, don’t just do nothing. You deserve more than that.