It’s that time of year again – the days are getting shorter and it’s getting gloomier and colder outside. Unfortunately for about 10 million Americans, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real form of depression that occurs when the seasons change to the fall and winter months. The decrease in daylight affects the circadian rhythms of your body, which creates hormonal changes, thus giving you symptoms of depression.
Although 75% of people affected by SAD are women between the ages of 20-40, it also affects seniors. Treating SAD is especially important in older individuals, considering the rate of suicide is higher among senior citizens than younger people. Here are some tips to combat some of the symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Although medication is available for depression symptoms, a more natural way to combat the blues is phototherapy – or light therapy. Scientifically researched, sitting in front of a lightbox between 30-45 minutes a day can help reduce the amount of melatonin being produced by your body. This will help regulate a chemical and hormonal balance, which will help decrease the symptoms of depression.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. By eating nutritional meals, you are providing your body with the right vitamins and nutrients to maintain good energy levels, which help combat low energy which can lead to depressive symptoms.
- As weather permits, spend time outside. Although it may be cold, spending time outdoors can increase your energy levels. Plus, exposure to any form of sunlight – whether it be direct or indirect – can help elevate your mood and decrease your melatonin.
- Talk to someone. Numerous people in American experience some form of SAD. Talk to a professional and get help if you feel you need it. It’s important to be open and honest with yourself and your body.