How To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depression is a complex mental health disorder that has many faces. Some people have major depression and continue to experience depressive episodes throughout their lives. Others may find themselves dealing with situational depression when faced with the loss of a family member or the loss of a job.

Meanwhile, others may only get depressed during the winter months when they spend far more time inside and the sunlight hides behind the winter clouds. In the case of any of these situations, you can find ways to cope. Speaking to the final example, let’s dive into a few helpful tips on how to cope with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Research what seasonal affective disorder is and how it affects you.

Do you find yourself feeling more morose when the seasons change from summer to winter? Do you have trouble getting excited during the Christmas season? Decorating your home with vibrant Christmas lights on your Christmas tree with festive bulbs and string lights can help boost your mood during those long, dark evenings when there are fewer daylight hours. However, you may still feel the urge to incorporate more ways that will help you cope with symptoms of SAD. The average person can miss a diagnosis of SAD because the symptoms may not always mimic the same severity presented by those who have a major depressive disorder.

SAD can often last anywhere from four to five months during the fall and winter season (although summer SAD does exist) and will feature trademark symptoms of depression such as a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, fatigue and changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and feeling down or hopeless. SAD, just like other mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorder or panic disorder, will need to be treated. Knowing what SAD is as well as how and when it strikes is key to moving forward more successfully when fall and winter roll around.

Reach out to a psychotherapist for support with your disorder.

Therapy and, for some, medications will be needed to experience relief from your symptoms and work towards treatment. One of the best forms of psychotherapy for SAD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT therapy is a form of talk therapy in which a CBT therapist will work with a patient to gain insight into their thought patterns and behavioral patterns that are contributing negatively to their mental health condition and quality of life. Starting with the first session, psychotherapists will then leverage cognitive therapy to help patients recognize these thoughts and behaviors, develop new skills to help them cope with their feelings, and establish a long-term treatment plan to help them experience relief from their current problems.

It’s important to note that CBT is useful for a wide variety of situations, but comorbid disorders may require additional treatment. For example, if you struggle with SAD alongside something more serious like substance use disorders or schizophrenia and psychosis, getting the effective treatment needed to help you deal with stressors and symptoms will be essential to taking care of those specific problems.

Do what you can to manage your depression at home.

A lot of your healing journey will not only involve a psychologist and CBT but how you manage your disorder on your own as well. While depression can be draining, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms or prevent a depressive episode from impacting you as heavily if you feel it coming on. Developing a solid support network, learning relaxation techniques like mediation, and doing more activities that you enjoy like sitting down in front of your favorite movie with hot chocolate can help you cope with your SAD more effectively.

Those who are affected by SAD don’t have to ride out the symptoms of depression for four or five months each year. Instead, battle the symptoms of your disorder by using the insightful tips offered above!

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