How to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sep 10, 2020 2:40 PM ET

After a whirlwind of a year, the fact that there is yet another change in season coming our way can be something difficult to get our heads around. Unfortunately, the season ahead can come with its own set of problems. Whereas summer often promises a decent dose of vitamin D, and the chance for sunlight to trigger the happier kind of shields in the brain, late autumn into the winter months can have the opposite effect.

This piece will discuss what seasonal affective disorder is and how to deal with it effectively.

What is the Difference Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Feeling Sad?

When the winter months start rolling in, it is completely normal to start feeling sluggish, a little sad and perhaps reaching for the comfort foods a little more frequently, but how easy is it to spot when a normal change in mood or habits turns into a diagnosable issue? This is where seasonal affective disorder comes in – also known as SAD.

Seasonal affective disorder can show signs of all the above, but it usually presents itself on a more serious level, warranting a diagnosis. Other symptoms can include, but are not limited to, depression, a feeling of hopelessness, social withdrawal, fatigue, anxiety and sleep problems.

These can all severely affect our quality of life, so how can we deal with it?

Use a Light Therapy Box for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Light plays a significant role in our wellbeing, and when winter comes around, the days are significantly shorter, which means so is the time we have access to light. Thankfully, due to innovations with this in mind, lightboxes can offer us a replacement while the nights get darker.

Lightboxes work by mimicking sunshine, omitting light that is brighter than regular light bulbs, and also in different wavelengths for a natural experience.

Talk to Your Doctor About Anti-Depressants

For those who are experiencing a particularly troubling bout of seasonal affective disorder, speaking with your doctor about suitable medication can really help through the winter months. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help retain the neurotransmitter serotonin which is responsible for an even mood.

For those who would like more information on SAD or depression, head over to

Get More Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for our bodies, and without the sun it is extremely difficult for our bodies to manufacture it. Completing our bodies with vitamin D could help relieve some of the symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder. The best sources of this come from fortified foods such as cereals, fatty fish such as mackerel and tuna, and dairy products.

Try Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can be effective in treating those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, especially combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps patients challenge their behaviors or thought patterns and correct them with something more helpful or positive.

To help with negative thought patterns in winter, try scheduling some activities to look forward to, and for a bonus, activities that move the body too, for exercise benefits.

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