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CRL Insights

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

"'Seasonal affective disorder: More than the winter blues"

This is a great article by the American Psychological Association!

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is more than just the winter blues. It is a type of depression that lasts for a season, typically the winter months, and goes away during the rest of the year. Symptoms of SAD are the same as those of depression. They can vary in severity and often interfere with personal relationships. Symptoms include fatigue, pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, sleep difficulty, or excessive sleeping, craving, and eating more starches and sweets, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair, and thoughts of suicide.Tips for managing seasonal affective disorder

Take in as much daylight as possible. The lack of sun exposure is part of what causes SAD, so soaking up as much as you can may lessen symptoms. Sit by a window or go for a walk during daylight hours. You could even take up a winter sport to get you outside and keep you moving.

Eat healthily. Comfort foods don’t have to be loaded with extra calories and lots of sugar and fat. Get creative and look for hearty, low-calorie recipes that are easy to prepare. Instead of eating cake and cookies, try making a dessert from seasonal fruits like apples and pears.

Spend time with your friends and family. Spending time with friends and family is a great way to lift your spirits and avoid social isolation. Snuggle with your kids or pets, visit with your friends while drinking a hot cup of tea, or play board games with your family. Talk to you loved ones about how the season is affecting you. Take the time to educate them about SAD so they can better understand your situation.

Stay active. Don’t stay cooped up in your house all winter. Get out and enjoy your community this season. Volunteer, join a local club, go for a walk, or go ice skating with your loved ones to start. Also, if you know you experience SAD year after year, be proactive about planning out a schedule in advance of winter to keep active and engaged with others. Research shows exercise and scheduling pleasant activities can be effective ways to lessen the impact of SAD.

Seek professional help. If you continue to struggle with feelings of depression, you may want to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. A psychologist can help determine if you have seasonal affective disorder and how best to treat it. Research shows that psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, is an effective treatment for SAD, and may have more long-term benefits than light therapy—daily use of an artificial bright lamp—or antidepressant medication.

How a psychologist can help

A psychologist can help you identify problem areas and then develop an action plan for changing them. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies on how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues. Practicing psychologists use a variety of evidence-based treatments—most commonly psychotherapy—to help people improve their lives

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