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Do you struggle with feeling sad or lethargic when it’s cold and cloudy outside? As the temperature changes and the holidays approach, do you feel lonely and deep in your thoughts? This could be seasonal depression. Let’s look at what it is and how to beat it.
Technically called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s estimated that around 10 million Americans struggle with it every year.
If this sounds like you, then understand that it’s very common, and there are ways to fight it. It’s all a part of self-care and it’s very important to understand.
What Is Seasonal Depression?
Before we get into how to combat seasonal depression, let’s look at what it is.
This type of depression is called SAD or the winter blues. Seasonal depression is a recurring depressive disorder where depression symptoms occur around the same season every year.
Most people experience moments of depression during the fall and winter months and the symptoms alleviate in the spring and summer.
Symptoms For Seasonal Depression
Now, not everyone has the same symptoms so sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint.
Always talk to your family doctor or therapist if you think you have seasonal depression.
According to the DSM-5, symptoms commonly associated with the winter blues include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Hypersomnia or a tendency to oversleep
- A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
- A drop in energy level
- Decreased physical activity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoidance of social situations
These are also common symptoms of depression too.
The biggest difference is that these symptoms appear when the weather or seasons change to be cloudy or cold or rainy. In fact, if your therapist is going to diagnose you with SAD, it must be established that these symptoms are not related to outside stressors such as unemployment or money issues.
Please, I cannot stress this enough, if you are feeling hopeless, reach out to a doctor immediately.
How To Combat Seasonal Depression
Alright, now you know what it is. So, how do you fight it? Let’s look at the best ways to fight the winter blues, from medical to self-care.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
I’ll keep saying this because it’s super important.
If you feel hopeless or are experiencing physical symptoms like weight changes, talk to your doctor. There are cognitive therapies and even medications that can help you.
This is a mental health issue and just like other health problems, you can find home remedies that help. But, you always need to talk to your doctor before trying anything new.
2. Diffuse and Use Essential Oils
One of my favorite ways to take care of my mind is to diffuse and use essential oils. There are so many ways you can do it too.
There really isn’t one best way to use them and you can use them every day. You basically have to figure out what works for you.
If you want to diffuse them, this video is super helpful. It answers all your questions like how many drops of oil and how much water to use.
You can also dab a drop of essential oils right on your wrist, above your heart, or behind your neck. This allows your skin to absorb the oils and lets their therapeutic properties take action.
The Best Essential Oils for Depression
There is a really long list of oils that can help with depression. I’ll share my favorite ones, the ones that I use the most. These work by helping your mind relax and calming anxiety that produces depression.
My favorite essential oils for depression are:
3. Vitamin D for Seasonal Depression
Another proven way to combat seasonal depression is getting more vitamin D. You can take oral vitamins if you are in a really cloudy area but, the best way to absorb it is to sit in the sunshine.
If possible, make like a cat and take a nap in a ray of sunshine that is pouring through the windows.
4. Get Moving
Another proven way to fight off the blues is to get your heart pumping. Dance around the house or turn on a workout video from YouTube.
Exercising produces endorphins, which make you feel happy.
5. Spend Time With People
Sometimes it’s tough to get out and see people when the weather is bad but, make an effort to invite people over or even do a video chat!
Socializing and talking to people will help you feel connected and get you out of your funk.
6. Avoid Unhealthy Thought Patterns
How are your thoughts? What are you thinking about constantly?
Sometimes, I find it helps me to write down my thoughts out in a journal.
It’s ok to feel things, but you need to address your unhealthy thought patterns. Are you telling yourself that no one cares about you? Is hopelessness playing on repeat in your mind?
This is why journaling is so important! It can help you understand yourself. Rewrite your inner narrative.
After you get out all of your feelings, change what you are writing. Start telling yourself why you are happy and begin to find things to celebrate instead.
7. Light Therapy
Light therapy is a way to treat SAD. Basically, you sit near a lightbox that shines ultraviolet (UV) light on you indirectly. You don’t need a prescription to buy a lightbox, but talking to your doctor will help you understand how to use one correctly.
You don’t want to shine it directly in your eyes. Just sitting in the light and reading a book or relaxing might help alleviate and improve your mood.
Be Pro-Active With Seasonal Depression
In my final thoughts, I want to encourage you.
I get it.
When the weather sucks, it’s hard to feel energetic and happy. But, if your mood goes from bored and bummed to really down, talk to someone. Take care of yourself and understand that seasonal depression is a very common thing.
Lots of people struggle with it too- you are not alone.
Make yourself and taking care of your mind a priority. Here are some of my favorite tips that helped me out so much.