The fall and winter seasons conjure up images of excitement and fun, but for people who suffer from a debilitating syndrome called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), these seasons can bring depression, excessive sleepiness, and extreme fatigue. This phenomenon, which affects thousands of people annually, occurs during the fall and winter seasons when days are shorter and it gets darker earlier.
Symptoms of SAD range from depression and suicidal thoughts to excessive sleeping, loss of sexual urges, weight gain due to carb-loaded food cravings, anxiety, lack of desire for social interaction, and more. Although SAD can affect men, it seems to run rampant in females. This complicated and difficult disorder can wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it. Even people who are not technically diagnosed with this disorder can benefit from a little bit of extra self-care during this dark and cold time of year.
People who suffer from seasonal depression may benefit from some of the following self-care techniques:
- Try to get as much exposure to sunlight as you can. A little bit of light goes a long way for patients with seasonal depression issues. Try waking up earlier than normal to take advantage of any sunlight that you can. Throw open the blinds and windows, take a walk outside, and do everything you can to get that natural sunlight. If you live in a really dark place, there are tools that you can buy, like light boxes, that simulate natural light from the sun that may help you.
- Take a Vitamin D supplement. Many people who suffer from seasonal depression also suffer from low levels of Vitamin D. Adding a supplement to your daily routine may give you an extra boost and can even help to alleviate other symptoms like achiness. Consult with your practitioner or doctor about the recommended amount.
- Exercise and play. Science has proven that exercise and daily physical activity can help keep depression at bay, and seasonal depression is no different. The best case scenario is to exercise or play outside in the sun, but you can also join a gym or exercise class if weather tends to be inclement in your area.
- Eat hearty and healthy. Good self-care during this time of year is critical in combatting depression, and consuming the right foods can make a huge difference in the way you feel. Filling up on broths, winter vegetables and fruits and cutting down on sugar-laden foods will make you feel best.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Getting good quality sleep each night can also work wonders for depression. Try to create a relaxing routine before bedtime and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to get the most benefit from sleep.
- Try acupuncture. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help alleviate or eliminate depression symptoms. Best of all, your acupuncture practitioner can help offer advice about herbs, supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes that can help you feel better this season.
To learn more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help you manage your symptoms, call 832.282.3306 or click here to schedule your appointment today.