Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often known as winter blues or winter depression. It is common this time of the year. It strikes when the nights get longer, the days shorter, and the sunshine is less frequent. Like other depressive disorders, it makes day-to-day functioning harder and can be debilitating.
Contrary to some beliefs, SAD is not separate from depression. It is a subset of depression. A SAD diagnosis occurs when a person with depression has a greater onset of symptoms during the winter months. Then this happens, it signifies a seasonal pattern of depression. If you or someone you love suffers from SAD it is vital to seek the care of a licensed mental health professional. A therapist in Hershey, PA will be able to assist you in a care plan. Online therapy can be a great tool for anyone struggling with depression. This is due to online depression treatment taking place from the comfort of your own home and space.
SAD vs Major Depressive Disorder
Symptoms of SAD and major depressive disorder are much the same. A person with SAD may experience weight gain during the winter months. This may be due to cravings for carbohydrates and comfort foods. They may also struggle with a depressed mood. Plus, they may have a desire to withdraw from activities they once enjoyed.
They may sleep more and struggle to get out of bed to complete necessary daily activities. The person may experience hopelessness and struggle with suicidal thoughts. The main difference between SAD and Major Depressive Disorder is that these symptoms often only occur during a certain time of year.
Treatment for SAD
Even though SAD is more of a seasonal problem, suffers benefit more from getting help than waiting it out. No one wants to feel crumby for a whole season when there are things that can be done to help a person feel better. There is also the concern that feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts will continue to grow. People may fear day-to-day functioning will continue to get more difficult.
If you struggle with suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
At Move Forward Counseling, our licensed therapists and counselors help SAD suffers. Our team uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help change unhealthy thought patterns. We also practice mindfulness to teach healthy coping strategies.
Tools for SAD Sufferers
A big reason why people struggle with depression during the winter months is due to the lack of sunshine. That is why SAD is more common in areas with long, cold winter seasons. Focus on getting as much sunlight as you can. Keep the blinds up, let the sun into your bedroom, your office. If that’s not enough, consider investing in an artificial sun box. These fake sun lights have special fluorescent tubes that mimic the sun’s rays. Try to get as much as you can first thing in the morning to increase energy levels throughout the day. Around 30 minutes is ideal. You can use it while you eat your breakfast or watch the morning news.
Get outside and get moving.
Research shows that even a walk in the cold is better than no walk at all. You can layer up. It is important to get your heart rate up while breathing in the fresh air and soaking up some vitamin D. Grab a friend and make it a date. Consider taking up an outside hobby like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Build a snowman or go sledding with the kids. Take the dog on a 30-minute walk or find a local trail to check out.
If you can’t bring yourself to be active outside, being active inside can also be beneficial. Go to a group exercise class, try indoor cycling, or swim some laps at the local pool. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that help to elevate your mood and keep you in shape. Good conversation and interaction with others in these spaces can also help lift your mood.
Making plans for the future can be a helpful distraction.
Have something you can look forward to. Plan a trip to take place in the middle of the winter, around late January or February. Go someplace warm. It will help to break up the winter slump and boost your mood in the middle of the cold months. Or, if you can’t swing it right now, research a place you want to go in the future and start saving. Allowing your mind to wander and imagine a relaxing vacation can help, even if you don’t go until later.
Now is the perfect time to take on a new hobby. Join a book or sewing club. Create a cooking or meal prep club with friends. Summer is often too busy to add something new, winter can be a perfect time.
Get Help With Online Depression Treatment in Pennsylvania
If you are struggling with SAD consider getting the help of a counselor or therapist. Online therapy can be a great tool for the SAD sufferer who doesn’t want to leave the house. Proper mental health care can help you to get back to feeling your best.
Begin Online Depression Treatment in Pennsylvania?
- Contact Move Forward Counseling
- Speak to our administrative assistant and get to know our team
- Start overcoming your depression and get back to feeling your best!