Tuesday, February 12, 2019

6 Practical Ways for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

6 Practical Ways for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Every winter, approximately 5 percent of Americans come down with seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The onset of SAD typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 30, and four out of five people who suffer from it are women. While more research needs to be done to figure out the causes, it’s widely considered that the decreased amount of daylight during the winter months plays a role.

Some symptoms of SAD include:
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of interest in activities you typically enjoy
  • Cravings for junk food
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you have noticed symptoms like these affecting your life lately, start treating them today. The longer you wait, the worse it can get. To get you started, here are six factors in treating SAD and living a full life this winter.


Practicing self-care is always an important element of overall wellness, but it’s even more critical during the wintertime. Exercising, following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, meditating, doing breathing exercises, and getting a massage are all examples of self-care practices that can reduce stress and improve your mental health. Even if you’re really busy, be sure to carve time into your schedule for self-care.


Lack of sunshine is believed to be a factor in seasonal depression. Therefore, it’s important to get as much as you can during the winter. Even though the days are shorter, try to get outside for 30 minutes a day or so—early afternoons are generally when sunlight peaks. Also, keep your curtains/blinds drawn to let natural light in while you’re indoors.   

Light Therapy

Along with walking outside for 30 minutes a day, consider purchasing a light therapy device. These boxes and lamps simulate sunshine and can do wonders for treating symptoms of SAD. Kicking your day off by sitting in front of a light therapy device can help stimulate your body’s internal clock, which can provide you with more energy and help you get into a healthy sleep pattern. Furthermore, look into full-spectrum dawn simulators. These devices are essentially an alternative to alarm clocks, as they wake you up with a gradually-brightening light.


Another way to treat symptoms of SAD is to establish and maintain a consistent schedule. Since many people who suffer from SAD have a difficult time falling and staying asleep, this can be a challenge, but keeping a steady schedule can improve your sleep patterns, keep you from overeating, and expose you to sunlight at the same times each day. It can also help to make your schedule relatively busy so that you don’t stay cooped up all winter.


While a consistent schedule is a great way to alleviate symptoms, taking a break from that routine for a few days can also have a positive impact on seasonal depression. Vacationing in a warmer climate during the winter can be revitalizing and boost your mental health. Plus, if you plan ahead of time, it can give you something to look forward to.


Writing has long been an avenue for expressing thoughts and emotions, which can be a great way to boost your mood. Purchase a journal that inspires you to write, and commit to writing 15-20 minutes a day. You can also use the journal to record goals and track your progress. While any time of the day works, some people find it best to write in the evening so they can reflect on all the day’s events.

SAD is sometimes referred to as the “winter blues,” but that name doesn’t do the depressive disorder justice. It’s a condition that should be taken seriously, and it can quickly progress into severe consequences if left untreated. Winter doesn’t have to be a time you dread every year. By taking proactive steps, it can be a time for thriving.

Writing by: Kimberly Hayes

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