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SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder: How Low Light Conditions During Winter Affect Mood | Okeechobee
Seasonal Changes Affect People, Too
It shouldn’t be surprising to us that humans, like other animals, are susceptible to changes in weather and light conditions. Just as cooler temperatures and shorter days signal geese to prepare for migration, squirrels to stock their nests with food, and bears to hunker down for a long hibernation, some people experience physiological symptoms related to seasonal changes, as well. So, if you feel gloomy just thinking about the changes that fall brings and the approach of winter, it may not be your attitude that’s at fault. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, symptoms of SAD may include weight gain, change in sleep patterns, depression, and a craving for starchy or sweet foods.
Symptoms can be mild to severe. Mild symptoms, often called “winter blues”, may cause lethargy, listlessness, or a feeling of unexplainable sadness. Severe symptoms may lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.
Tips to Help You Cope
Even if you may feel like hibernating with the bears, there are better ways of handling SAD symptoms. Here are some tips that can help you cope:
- If you’re having thoughts about suicide, get help. See your family doctor, or call the Canadian Mental Health Association for resources in your area.
- Starting the day right with a nutrient rich breakfast can help you feel better and prevent weight gain. If you’re not big on breakfast, try to have a piece of fresh fruit or whiz together a fruit/protein drink in the blender. Good nutrition is necessary for optimal health at any time, and especially now.
- Get outside! Getting as much sunlight as possible can help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Grab your camera and go for a walk, start a fall seed collection, or gather some leaves for pressing.
- Exercise. Now is a great time to begin an outdoor exercise program. Instead of grabbing a doughnut on your break, get outdoors and move. You’ll feel better for it and starting now will be a lot easier than starting in January. Plan to try some new outdoor activities over the winter months. Check your local recreation centre or community learning guide for some ideas.
- Consider light therapy. Installing full-spectrum light bulbs in places where you spend much of your time indoors can also help. Talk with your doctor about this.
Visit a treatment center in Okeechobee for more tips.
Yes, fall is a reminder that winter is on its way. But the good news is, spring always follows winter and there is help for fighting those dreary winter blues.