Get Ahead of Your Seasonal Depression this Year
If you live in a colder climate, like we do in Bozeman, Montana, you know it can be challenging dealing with a lack of sunlight and being stuck inside due to frigid temps during winter months. It is for these reasons many people experience what is called “the winter blues.”
But seasonal depression goes much deeper than this. Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD – seasonal depression results in fatigue, a loss of interest in socializing and activities, weight gain and more. Symptoms usually begin to present in the fall and last until the sunnier, warmer days of spring. Since spring in Montana doesn't even show up until June (if at all), it is especially important to be aware of how the weather and cold can impact your mood.
If you suffer from seasonal depression, there are things you can do to stop it in its tracks this year:
Use a Light Box
When winter comes, the light goes. It gets darker earlier and we simply can’t spend as much time in the sun. To combat this, it is recommended those with seasonal depression use a light therapy box. And best to start using it each year in the beginning of fall, before your SAD symptoms even have a chance to take hold. Go outside and soak up the Montana sunshine and blue sky, even if it is cold. Bundle up and go for a walk or better yet a ski.
Eat a Proper Diet
When it’s cold and nasty out and we’re feeling sad and depressed, most of us will reach for those comfort foods that are laden with processed sugars and trans fats. But these foods will usually make us feel even more tired and depressed. To add insult to injury, eating bad foods only helps us to gain weight, which can make us feel more depressed. Best to stick to a diet consisting of whole foods rich in healthy fats and carbs, some quality protein and vitamins and minerals. Be compassionate with yourself, if you slip into patterns of eating or drinking too much. The best way to get back on track with a health pattern is to start by being gentle with yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can to cope.
People with seasonal depression tend to isolate themselves during the winter months, and this can, again, exacerbate the depression. Do your best to stay involved with your social circle. Friends can be a great support during this challenging time.
You may also want to speak with someone about how you’re feeling. A therapist can offer tools and advice that will help you navigate your feelings. If you’d like more information about how counseling can help with seasonal depression, please give Bozeman Counseling Center a call!