The winter months can be difficult for everyone. Shorter days, colder weather, and changes in routine can bring on seasonal depression. While some may think seasonal depression is a made-up term to define the “holiday blues,” it is a mental health disorder affected by seasonal change. Luckily, there are programs to treat seasonal affective disorder and stop seasonal depression at home. The more you know about the science behind seasonal depression, the easier it will be to overcome winter blues.
If you or someone in your life is looking for seasonal affective disorder treatment, help in Portland, OR, Crestview Recovery is here for you. Reach out today at 866.262.0531 to learn more about our therapy programs.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal depression, also called SAD or seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months. The brain receives less sunlight during the winter months simply because the days are shorter. Less sunlight results in lower levels of Vitamin D and higher melatonin levels. Melatonin is a naturally produced chemical that helps us fall asleep at night. Melatonin production is very sensitive. Blue lights from screens lower melatonin production, making it hard to fall asleep. A lack of sunlight has the opposite effect.
The science behind seasonal depression is simple. Studies show higher levels of melatonin correlate with higher levels of depression. Other seasonal factors can contribute too. The body’s internal clock may move out of sync with darker, shorter days. Changes in weather and less natural light can affect exercise. Studies show lower levels of physical activity increase anxiety and prevent the release of endorphins. The winter months also bring holidays, family stress, and pressure. Combined with changes in schedules, holiday travel, a lack of sunlight can seriously affect a person’s mental health.
Signs of seasonal depression include:
- Increased fatigue
- Loss of interest in activities and relationships
- Mood swings
- Decreased appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Weight Loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Easily agitated
- Feeling worthless
During winter, it’s hard to realize that spring is just around the corner. Today, seasonal depression is common, and while for many, it may not be avoidable, it can be treated.
4 Ways to Stop Seasonal Depression at Home
Understanding your triggers can help you or your loved one reduce the effects of seasonal depression. If you’re experiencing SAD, try these tips today.
- Go outside. Natural sunlight is essential in decreasing SAD, whether it’s only a few minutes or extra time next to a large window. Moving your body will also increase endorphins, reduce anxiety, and help you sleep at night.
- Socializing. Any socialization can help mitigate the effects of seasonal depression. Feeling heard and listening to others deeply can help people renege with the world around them.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. Seasonal depression can often cause people to ruminate on the past or worry about the future. Mindfulness exercises can bring the mind and body into the present moment to reduce stress. They also provide a reminder that the winter months will soon pass.
- Blue light. Many lightbulbs, special lamps, and glasses on the market today can provide the necessary light to stave off depression as your doctor or therapist for a good recommendation.
Many things can trigger seasonal depression. By taking time to assess your needs, create boundaries, and get out of the house, you can reduce seasonal depression on your own. However, speaking with a professional and seeking the help you need is always the safest way to overcome depression.
Treat Seasonal Depression at Crestview Recovery
If you or someone you love is struggling with seasonal depression, you are not alone. Portland’s Crestview Recovery can provide you with the mental health support and community you need to make it through the winter months happy and healthy. To learn more about our programs, reach our friendly staff today at 866.262.0531.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.