The leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall off the tree. The nights are getting longer and colder. You may find yourself lying in bed longer and decreased energy to do much of anything. You may have noticed that your mood has shifted but nothing has happened and you struggle trying to figure out what is happening. Well, if this sounds familiar then I urge you to read more.
You are not making these feelings up and they are real! For years I had struggled with trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I could not make much sense of my dread of the months ahead of me until I learned of Seasonal Depression, also referred to in the Mental Health world as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that happens every time of a certain part of the year at the same time. According to the diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 , criteria for depression with a seasonal pattern include having depression that begins and ends during a specific season every year (with full remittance during other seasons) for at least two years and having more seasons of depression than seasons without depression over a lifetime.
Before making a diagnosis on yourself by this post or other similar reads, please consult with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. For many people seasonal depression happens in the fall and winter months and lessen throughout or when the weather changes in the Spring and Summer months. This is not indicative of all populations as some may struggle during summer months and lessen during the fall and winter months.
There are several theories and research studies that surround this topic, so guess what you are not alone. There are others like us and we can learn ways to cope during these transitional phases into different stages of the season.
During the months of less sunlight, our brains are making less serotonin, which has many functions and of course, it is the feel-good chemical in our brain. This is what makes us feel happy or have a better sense of well-being. I hope this is helping you to make betters sense of what you may be experiencing. Well there you have it, thank you sunlight, thank you serotonin!
We should all pick up and move closer to the equator right?! Well, not really, there are ways we can cope and find these changing seasons to be less stressful and burdensome to us. Unfortunately, fall and winter are not going to respect the fact that we are not too enthused of its arrival, so we have to deal with the fact that seasons are going to happen so why not figure out a way to reframe our mind. Well, that works for me so I am just providing some quick tips and maybe you have some tips as well and I would love to hear them!
I purchased a Sunlight 10,000 Lux Happy Energy Light Therapy Simulated Natural Sunlight Full Spectrum LED Lamp Light Box Portable Thin Border Design Aluminum Alloy Material. There are many out there just read what you feel will work best for you and please, please read the directions on how far you should sit from the light and how many times per day you should use the light. Primarily, this tricks the chemical in my brain into thinking it is getting Natural Sunlight, which in return increases my mood.
Also, the freebies in life, who does not love the freebies?! The Natural Sunlight itself, getting outside and taking brisk walks, jogs or whatever you prefer to do outside. For me I also, love meditation. For me, there is no other mediation like connecting directly to Wonderful Mother Earth herself.
Surrounding yourself amongst friends and family. For me, I love going to gatherings during these months. Being able to find a reason to get me out of the house and around other humans laughing, eating and anything that has to do with good vibes! I guess that's why I love the Holidays too!
There is help and there is hope and I would like to end this post with you are not alone. I wish you well and please comment, send an email for other topics or post you would like me to discuss.
As always, my very best
Shatara S. , LPCA, NCC