4 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression

If you struggle with a constant case of the winter blues, you may have seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In other words, you may struggle with a decrease in energy, changes in appetite, or a loss of interest in once-loved activities during late fall and winter.

The good news? SAD is treatable. And when you can recognize the symptoms of SAD in yourself or a loved one you care for, you can enhance the overall quality of life for both of you.

Common signs & symptoms of SAD

  • Lacking energy or feeling sluggish
  • Loss of interest in once-loved activities
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Increase need for sleep or challenges with sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Becoming antisocial or wanting to be alone
  • Increase in appetite or weight gain
  • Feelings of worthless, hopelessness, or suicide

Although there isn’t currently a way to prevent SAD, there are several steps you can take to ease your symptoms. And thanks to the National Institute of Mental Health and Daily Caring, we’re sharing four ways to beat winter blues below.

4  ways to ease the symptoms of SAD

1. Talk with your doctor – Because SAD is a form of depression, talking with your doctor or healthcare professional is always the first step in accurately diagnosing and determining the best course of action to treat SAD early on.

2. ​​ Soak up more natural sunlight – it’s no coincidence that you feel better on a bright sunny day. That’s why getting more exposure to natural sunlight outside (especially on a sunny day) is one of the best ways to increase your serotonin levels, which is the hormone that’s responsible for improving your mood.

3. ​​ Try light therapy – if you’re struggling to get more natural sunlight outside, you can also try sitting in front of a light therapy box or lamp that mimics the sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes a day. According to the Mayo Clinic reports, researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other SAD symptoms.

4. Get regular exercise – getting regular exercise like a short walk is another great way to alleviate SAD because it helps increase serotonin levels and endorphins. But if it’s too cold or snowy for a walk, try using a treadmill at home or the gym. And if you’re curious about other forms of exercise, don’t forget to check out the Health & Wellbeing section of our Resource Directory.

While we’re not experts on SAD, we hope you found the information we shared helpful. For even more information about seasonal affective disorder, check out the National Institute of Mental Health. And as always, remember if you have any questions or would like to suggest a future blog topic, please email us at hello@duluthagingsupport.org.