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Fighting off gloomy-weather depression with simple habits

Seasonal depression impacts million in the United States every year but treatments for the seasonal disorder are simple and easy to manage. (MGN)
Seasonal depression impacts million in the United States every year but treatments for the seasonal disorder are simple and easy to manage. (MGN)
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We get our fair share of gloomy days in the Midwest, and for some that can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD, is a type of depression that affects people at the same time each year, typically late fall through the winter months.

The disorder is more common in women than men and young people have a higher risk of developing it. With the conditions for most starting in their 20’s.

The changes in your mood are driven by chemicals in your body like serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is thought to affect mood and appetite while melatonin will give the urge to sleep and wake up.

When you don’t get enough sunlight, it can lower the amount of serotonin your body produces, which can negatively affect your mood. Gloomy days can wreak havoc on the melatonin levels in our body making it harder for some people to get up on those dark mornings.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Feeling depressed on most of the days
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Reduced energy
  • Trouble sleeping/oversleeping
  • Weight loss/gain

The exact cause for SAD is not known but some of the factors that could influence the condition include:

  • Changes in the body’s internal clock due to seasonal changes
  • Reduced levels of serotonin
  • Imbalance of melatonin in our body
  • Vitamin D insufficiency
  • Family history
  • Personal history with depression

If a lack of sunshine is keeping you down, a few simple tips could help turn your mood around.

Get yourself outside!

  • Daily walk and exercise can boost your mood
  • Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that create a positive or euphoric feeling in the body
  • Make sure to get morning sunlight exposure to keep a regulated internal clock

Let the light in

  • When it’s gloomy, flood your home or office with as much light as possible
  • Maximize any sunlight that filters through on cloudy days

Light therapy

  • When there is little to no natural light you can purchase a light box that mimics natural light.
  • Position it by your desk for about an hour each day
  • Light box turns off melatonin production while boosting serotonin

Don’t shut yourself in

Stay social and active through the gloomy weather.

  • Sign up for a class
  • Find a workout buddy
  • Schedule regular plans with friends

Ask your doctor

  • If you’re still struggling with seasonal depression you can always talk to your doctor
  • Take Vitamin D, helps your body absorb calcium and benefits immune system.

There are many ways you can treat symptoms of SAD and they are easier than you think.

So the next time the forecast calls for gloomy conditions, you might want to skip that Netflix binge from bed.

You can learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder by clicking, here.

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