Are you SAD? Tis’ the Season for Seasonal Affect Disorder
Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affect disorder is just that, a seasonal pattern of depression. Some of us feel down only during changes of seasons, while others of us experience recurrent depressive episodes compounded by SAD. Imagine wearing one of those X-ray protective aprons all day long. SAD feels lead-like to many sufferers.
Depression is similar to asthma in that it’s a spectrum disorder, and looks different on everyone. Some of us have exercise induced asthma, while others need daily inhaled steroids to manage their asthma. Depression, like asthma, is an illness that comes and goes with seasons, exacerbates with exposure to triggers, and sometimes improves with regular medication use. It’s not predictable. Some flare ups last hours, and other episodes can last for weeks. Both depression and asthma have a way of showing up uninvited.
The symptoms of SAD include: trouble waking up in the morning, sleeping too much (or not enough), craving carbs, gaining weight, feeling sad, irritable, and/or edgy.
SAD is distressing for our loved ones as well, especially if they grew up hearing, “pull yourself up from your bootstraps.” Feeling depressed, or even talking about how we feel isn’t an option for some of us. The unfair stigma attached to depression prevents many of us from getting much needed help.
Here a few Tips from the Trail for those with SAD, and for our loved ones.
Tips for Family members:
1. Update yourself on the current depression research. Some of us are blessed with the capacity to quickly adapt back to an EVEN mood after suffering an emotional set back. If it were that easy for all of us, this discussion wouldn’t be necessary.
2. Talk with your partner or friend about what works and doesn’t work regarding how they want your support. And, let them know what would help you feel connected with them when they are feeling depressed.
Tips from the Trail for those struggling from SAD:
1. Understand that depression is a part of you. You are not depression. You have depression. Get the difference? Talk to your therapist about this distinction.
2. Invest in a light therapy bar. Check out this link for more information. Start your morning sitting in front of your light for 30 minutes.
3. Get a physical and blood work done every year to make sure you have no underlying medical condition contributing to your low mood.
4. Exercise, practice good sleep hygiene, and get into some daily routines. Notice if you are self medicating more than usual. If so, you might want to add in weekly therapy appointments.
I hope these tips help you find some joy as Fall moves into Winter.
Peace to you and yours, Allison