December 24, 2021

Ways to Combat Seasonal Depression

Sondos Gharib

Good morning everyone! In today’s blog post I’ll be talking about seasonal depression. 

With the dip in temperature and the short groggy mornings on the way, many of us can be negatively affected with that change. In fact according to the American Academy of Family Physicians "about 4 to 6 percent of people in the United States have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and 20 percent have a mild form of it called the 'winter blues.'"

SAD is a type of depression that’s related to the change in seasons, when the days get shorter and colder. Symptoms of Seasonal depression can include persistent low mood and self-esteem, anxiety, oversleeping, appetite changes, and loss of interest in normal everyday activities. These symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. However, there are three simple solutions that can be done to reduce any of those symptoms:

1.  Exercising. 

Most of us stay inside for most of the season and as a result our physical activity levels decrease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Moving your body will compete with that tendency to be sluggish and can produce good brain chemistry.” So consider either outside activities like a morning walk, bike ride, or take your yoga outdoors. However, if you can’t exercise due to the cold or the snow then take a walk on the treadmill, try out some at-home workouts, or even go to the gym. 

2. Social Activities.

With the change in weather and the winter darkness we prefer staying inside which results in a decrease in our social interactions and that can negatively affect our mental state. However, finding creative activities to do with your family and friends outdoors like a sport or hanging out at your local park can positively affect your mood. If the winter darkness and temperature make it hard to perform outdoor activities then taking part in indoor activities or even just a simple FaceTime/Zoom call with your loved one can be the easiest mood booster. 

3.  Light Therapy

Many experts believe that seasonal depression could be a result of the lack of sunlight exposure. So whether it’s opening all the blinds and curtains in your house or taking a stroll in your neighborhood for a few minutes could result in great benefits.  If you’re stuck behind your desk for a long time consider buying a light therapy device that contains fluorescent light tubes which are covered that blocks ultraviolet lights. Sitting in front of it for about 30 minutes every day will start your morning off great and combat any SAD symptoms. Not recommended for anyone who has diabetes or retinal damage. 

Like I've mentioned, seasonal depression is normal to have; however, if symptoms prolong for two weeks after trying to combat them then definitely reach out to your doctor for more help. If you’re interested in more content and helpful guides like this, please join our Facebook group at this link!

Link to article: Seasonal Affective Disorder mayo clinic

Sondos Gharib is a Psychology intern at Thaddeus Resource Center.