Could your 'Holiday Blues' be Seasonal Affective Disorder?
People feel depressed or sad owing to a number of reasons. However, some such phases of sadness are accompanied by events or time. A lot of people who feel they are having holiday blues may actually be undergoing a condition called SAD or seasonal affective disorder. It starts in the fall and persists throughout the cold and dark days of winter. But a lot of affected people actually have no clear idea about it and associate it with the holiday blues. It affects people living in areas where winter daylight timing is pretty short.
What are the reasons behind winter blues or SAD?
While the onset of winter days triggers the feeling of depression in people, there are underlying reasons- as per the experts. The main reasons leading to the onset of SAD in people are:
Researchers have found that women are more prone to developing this disorder than men. Especially, women who stay far from the equator and those with a family history of SAD are more susceptible to form a seasonal depression. Interestingly, young people are more vulnerable to developing SAD than older ones.
The main symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
Before you can seek treatment for this condition, it is necessary that you know about its main symptoms. These are:
- Spell of crying
- Overeating- and weight gain
- Shorter sleep cycle
- Hardship in focusing
A lot of affected women and men also report tendencies to think of suicide. The doctors also try to analyze family history of the patients to find out if they are more vulnerable to SAD.
Diagnosis and treatment options for SAD
People who think they are undergoing SAD should do better to make lists of their life changes, medications, so that the doctor can detect the disorder easily. In some cases, the affected lot is asked to undergo mental examination and even blood tests.
There is actually a treatment for seasonal affective disorder and you can try the one that suits you.
This is what a majority of SAD victims are asked to undergo to get relief. This therapy helps human brain generate serotonin and eventually leads to happiness. Small, lightboxes are used in therapy. If you think these are costly make it a habit to go out during daytime. You may also adopt measures to let more sunlight in the rooms of the house instead of keeping the heater on- more so at daytime. When you work if office, take small breaks to spend a few minutes in sunlight if possible.
Well, you may not have time for joining a gym, but light to moderate working out to help victims of SAD, say the psychologists. You may try light exercises at home for at least thrice a week for 20 to 30 minutes to feel better. As per the views of Psychologist Donna Dawson, “Regular exercise is a great way to avoid the threat of low moods - it gets the blood flowing and releases feel good endorphins, which are nature's instant mood lifters.” You may even do light yoga at home for the same effects. Trying aerobics moves also help people fight off the blues.
People do not realize the food they eat may affect their mood in winter days. In winter, you feel like eating the so called comfort foods more! To ensure you stay unaffected by SAD in winter months, you should eat more oily fish including sardines and mackerels. Doctors also think the affected lot can eat Brazil nuts as they have selenium. This mineral intake can help boost production of serotonin, a hormone which makes you feel good.
A lot of psychologists feel interacting with other people when you feel symptoms of SAD can be the best way to overcome it. You can talk to a friend or colleague with whom you have a high comfort level- both genders. Talking with a counselor is also an option for such people. If you do not have friends staying nearby talking over phone also works. Words of compassion, support from close ones can do wonders to erase the feeling of sadness.
In some cases, the doctors treating such victims may offer antidepressant medications. However, keep in mind that relying only on medications is not prudent for getting lasting relief from SAD.
It is true that on some winter days you hardly get any sunlight and the sky is clouded and gloomy. However, what ever natural light and fresh air is there can help lighten up your mind say the doctors. Go out in the morning to get some fresh air or walk in the park to shake off the feeling of sadness. Even if the air is chilly it is likely to do you good, say the experts. However, it should be done when there is some light in the atmosphere.
St John's Wort:
This herb has been used by various races to treat depression. The herb actually has benefits similar to anti-depressants. However, you should not resort to using St John's Wort without seeking medical advice. Its application can sometimes interfere with some medications and leads to health complications.
If you find none of the above therapies bring the required output- pack your bags and go for a small vacation. It can be for a couple of days as well to a place of your choice- whether it is a mountain region or seaside city.
Summing it up
It is quite evident SAD is caused by lack of exposure to sunlight, which disrupts natural clock of your body. The effects are more in mind than body and so keeping the mood light is what you need to do. Resorting to outside activities like gardening or cycling can also help lighten up your mood. Sometimes, you may also get benefit by combining some of these therapies for SAD.