Recognizing and Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
The dark rainy days of winter may be a little harder to push through during a season marred by political upheaval amid a global pandemic. Adding seasonal affective disorder to the mix can lay even the most seasoned Pacific Northwesterners flat. Here’s a collection of articles on how to recognize the symptoms of SAD in yourself and find the most effective treatment methods.
WHAT CAUSES SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?
“A lot of the science points to the impact that shorter daylight hours can have on hormones, which can lead to increases in melatonin and decreases in serotonin.... This shift in the hormones that regulate sleep and mood can increase depressive symptoms."
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
“Short tempers, bad moods, low energy — parents are seeing it all, even from kids who are ordinarily cheerful.”
*The symptoms of SAD match those of other kinds of depression, including:
Feeling unusually sad or irritable, even when there’s no obvious reason
Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyable
Low energy levels
Changes in weight or eating habits
Sleeping too much or too little
Being very self-critical
Engaging in self-harming behaviors, like cutting
Feeling hopeless, worthless or numb
Thoughts of or attempts at suicide
HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?
*Several effective treatments can help ease the symptoms of SAD, including:
Opening the window shades in your home. Simply bringing more sunlight into your life can treat mild cases.
Spending time outdoors every day, even on cloudy days.
Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, one low in carbohydrates and high in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Using a "dawn simulator," which gradually turns on the bedroom light, tricking the body into thinking it's an earlier sunrise.
Planning a mid-winter family vacation to a sunny climate.
Light therapy - sitting in front of a strong light box or wearing light visors, with UV rays filtered out. However, light therapy may have risks when used for children. Talk to your child's doctor before considering this treatment option.