There’s a type of depression that affects 10+ million Americans. Women are normally diagnosed with it more often than men.
If you already suffer from depression on a daily basis, you are 10 times more likely to have this ailment as well.
It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. And it can indeed make you really, really sad.
People who have SAD report feelings of extreme despair, no interest in things that normally make them happy, and lots of tears shed, sometimes for no apparent reason. Here are other symptoms that could mean SAD:
- Change in appetite, especially craving sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- Drop in energy level
- Tendency to oversleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability and anxiety
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoidance of social situations
- Loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Physical problems, such as headaches
The reason this is called a seasonal disorder is because it normally happens in the colder months of the year, and seems to strike around the same time each year.
The long winter months are the biggest culprits for causing SAD.
These are the darkest times of the year with the least amount of sun in many areas.
And people normally stay indoors when it’s cold, so they don’t benefit from fresh air and whatever sunshine they can soak up.
The happy news though, is that SAD is completely treatable. How? Read on for 5 Ways to Feel Happy with SAD.
According to MayoClinic.org, “Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms.
Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.”
Simply put, if you are using light therapy to treat SAD, it is best to keep to a regular schedule. You can increase its effectiveness by exercising outdoors whenever possible.
Even if the sun is not out directly, you will still receive benefits during the day.
2 – Physical Activity
Our bodies produce certain brain chemicals that make us feel good.
Exercise is one of the ways to release these so we can feel the benefits.
Examples of these are serotonin and endorphins (which can have a cannabis-like effect that makes us feel better!)
Physical activity can also take our minds off of our troubles for a while.
Especially if it’s an activity that requires concentration, like playing tennis… or taking a walk on a tree-lined trail where we can enjoy nature and wildlife for a temporary break from hectic life and worries.
As your serotonin levels increase, you will find your mood improving and stress & anxiety levels dropping.
When you combine exercise with daylight, you get the best of both treatments.
3 – Healthy Eating
Healthy, whole, non-processed foods are ideal for our bodies, so they also make us feel our best.
Even though cravings are normal for processed foods, fast foods, comfort foods, candy, breads, pastas, etc… to combat SAD, try to resist those cravings.
Instead opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
Stay hydrated with the minimum 64 ounces of water per day. Drink soothing herbal teas that can help to lighten your mood and lift your spirits.
4 – Time with Family & Friends
With SAD, a person may feel like not associating with any other human person, but studies have shown that regular contact with others is essential for our overall well-being.
Try to spend more time with family and friends, if not in person, then over the telephone or video conferencing.
Keep conversations light and positive, and most of all, find reasons to laugh together. Laughter really is good medicine.
5 – Help Others
Why? When you are helping others, this can help refocus your attention away from yourself.
Those with any type of depression can tend to develop a “woe is me” mindset and always worry about their own situation.
Whether it’s volunteering, sending someone a card in the mail, or calling to check on people, these unselfish activities not only help the recipients, but the giver too. After all, there is more happiness in giving…
You can still feel happy when you have SAD!
You don’t have to give in to the symptoms and let them rob you of joy. Start with just one of these suggestions if you feel overwhelmed. Take that first step to emotional, mental, and physical wellness!
P.S. We are fitness professionals but not doctors. If you choose to follow any advice from our blog, please consult with a medical professional first.