Maybe it’s the rain. The chill in the air. Or, maybe, it’s the reduced sunlight exposure that accompanies the shortened days of fall and winter. If you’re one of the many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the colder months are more likely to be filled with anxiety and depression than jolly and cheer. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, SAD is a form of depression that recurs seasonally—either in the winter or summer. If you’re struggling with SAD, depressive episodes occur more frequently—nearly every day—during the coinciding season.
In addition to near-daily feelings of depression, you may also experience the other symptoms associated with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Social withdrawal
Females, children and young adults, people with a family history of depression, and those struggling with depression or bipolar disorder are at a greater risk for experiencing seasonal depression and anxiety. Although it can feel like a never-ending summer down here in Baton Rouge, the seasons can’t be stopped. If you’re struggling with SAD, there are methods available for managing and treating your seasonal symptoms.
Get moving: Exercising regularly can promote the release of endorphins and counteract the effects of SAD. Try scheduling your exercise—even a daily walk—during midday when the sun is high and bright. If you find it difficult to make time for the sun during the day, phototherapy is an effective option for treating seasonal depression symptoms.
Light up your night: Phototherapy, or light therapy, uses a special light therapy box to mimic the sun’s natural light, which can cause a change in brain chemicals associated with mood. Light therapy often begins working within two weeks and has few and minor recorded side effects. Consult with your doctor before purchasing a light therapy box to make sure it’s the right first step for you.
Talk it out: In addition to regular exercise and phototherapy, talking with a trained psychiatrist or behavioral therapist can help you pinpoint negative thoughts and behaviors that can potentially worsen your SAD symptoms. Along with identifying these harmful patterns, your counselor can help you learn to manage potential stresses and cope with SAD.
Consider prescription medication: If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant treatment, in addition to exercise and talk and light therapies. It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t immediately notice the effects of the antidepressant, but please remember that it may take several weeks to notice full benefits and you may also need to try a few different medications to find the antidepressant that works best for your particular symptoms with the fewest side effects.
If you’re struggling with seasonal depression or anxiety, the doctors and therapists at Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge are here to help. It’s time to bring the jolly and cheer back to your winter months. Call the mental health experts of Baton Rouge today to schedule a consultation.