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Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a health condition that mainly affects people during the winter. This medical problem has an assortment of symptoms that include:

  • Social isolation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Excess sleep
  • Agitation
  • Gaining weight

Approximately 3 million individuals are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder each year, and the condition typically begins during the late autumn. Also known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder begins to affect individuals during their teenage years, but it also develops in adults and senior citizens. Individuals living in colder and darker geographic regions tend to have this depressive disorder. If you have this condition, you may wonder if you have regular depression, but this type of depression typically improves during the spring and summer.

What are the Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

First, you must visit an expert counselor to determine if you have regular depression or seasonal affective disorder. It is possible to undergo counseling for seasonal affective disorder, and you are often also prescribed antidepressants, but there are also other ways to improve the condition.

Treatment 1: Additional Vitamin D

Many experts believe that the lack of vitamin D in the autumn and winter can lead to having seasonal affective disorder. Some foods contain vitamin D, including eggs, fortified cereals and cheese, but taking a dietary supplement is recommended. You can take a multivitamin that contains vitamin D, or you can find single supplements that contain this nutrient. Make sure to take the proper amount of this nutrient for your age and gender.

Treatment 2: Exposure to Light

When you have seasonal affective disorder, additional exposure to light is one of the ways that you can feel better. With exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, your body produces additional vitamin D, but during the winter, you may not have enough sunlight in your geographic region. However, you can buy a light box that emits a lot of bright light into your eyes and onto your skin, helping you to feel better.

Treatment 3: Keeping a Regular Schedule

Rather than sleeping too much in the winter, you should try to keep a regular sleeping and waking schedule each day. This helps to regulate your brain’s circadian rhythms so that you have more physical energy and mental clarity. To sleep better at night, don’t watch television or use your smartphone. Have a dark and quiet bedroom that makes you feel relaxed so that you don’t have sleep disturbances.

Treatment 4: Avoid Social Isolation during the Winter

To have a better mood, you should avoid social isolation during the winter by socializing frequently. Many retirees develop seasonal affective disorder because they remain home too much, but they must find ways to associate with others to avoid feeling depressed. Joining a local gym or hobby groups is a way to have something to do several times a week. For additional information about seasonal affective disorder, contact McLean Counseling Center in McLean, VA.