Ten million people are affected by seasonal depression. It has been reported that 6 percent of those are acutely affected and may even end up in the hospital for treatment of their symptoms.
Onset of seasonal depression can begin in the teenage years or the adult years. Symptoms may be misdiagnosed for other symptoms at first, especially for teens. This could be because the symptoms can mimic those of other disorders.
Also, not every person has the same symptoms.
To be diagnosed, however, a person must experience the negative symptoms of depression for at least two years, in the same season.
For example, if every winter a person starts to feel sad most days, lose weight, lack energy and isolates from family and friends, this could be due to seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression can happen when chemicals such as serotonin and hormones like melatonin that are produced in lower amounts during the season in which you feel depressed.
Seasonal depression is very treatable. Unfortunately, most doctors try to prescribe a man-made medicine full of unnatural ingredients that promise to regulate the chemical production.
Before you start taking prescription medication, try a natural remedy first. Make this the year that leads to a decade or more of positive health.
Natural remedies like the ones listed below can help you start this decade out on the right foot.
1. Let There Be Light
Since we know less daylight hours can lead to seasonal depression, then getting more daylight hours should improve seasonal depression.
There are a couple of ways to do this. One is with light therapy.
You can purchase a light therapy system, which may also be called phototherapy or bright light therapy. These full spectrum light systems act like the sun, giving you light that can regulate melatonin and boost serotonin.
Another way is to start spending more time outside in the direct sunlight.
Sure, it is usually cold outside, but sit in a sunroom or by a window that gets a lot of sun, or bundle up on days that are clear enough for you to spend time outside. The benefits of boosted serotonin and regulated hormones and vitamin levels are worth it.
While outside, you may want to exercise.
Exercise does not have to be overwhelming or make you feel exhausted before you even start.
Change your definition of outdoor exercise so that it makes you feel excited and eager.
Well, at least let it motivate you, like medicine, because you know it is going to make you feel better.
Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that act like natural opiates, making you feel high and easing pain. Even fifteen to thirty minutes a day can make a huge difference in your mental health.
3. Recommended Daily Doses of Vitamins
Your doctor can order tests that show the levels of vitamins in your body. If your vitamins are low, you can plan to start building those levels back up.
With seasonal depression, vitamin D and the B vitamins are important. When too low, you can start to feel sadder, have less energy, and your appetite could change.
The good news is that it is so easy to build up vitamin levels.
Today, both vitamin D and Bs can be found in retail stores. They come in several different forms, too, allowing you to choose the one that makes it easier to ingest.
Liquid, capsule, and tablet forms are the most common. There are some doctors who provide intravenous vitamin therapies.
Along with vitamins, there are other supplements to try.
4. Supplements for SAD
St. John’s Wort, Fish Oil or Omegas, Saffron, 5-htp, and SAMe have been shown to improve the feelings of sadness.
You do not need to take all of these at once. You do need to work with your doctor in choosing which one to add to your daily routine.
Keep in mind some supplements can interfere with medications. This is another reas
on working with your doctor must be done.
5. Talk It Out
You can probably remember a time when you needed to vent. You called a friend that could relate to your problem, vented, and felt better.
Do the same to help fight seasonal depression. However, the person you talk to should be a mental health professional who provides cognitive behavioral therapy or “talk therapy”.
There is a great deal of research supporting the benefits of talk therapy. Make sure the therapist you meet with is professionally qualified and has experience dealing with seasonal depression.
6. Laugh It Off
“Laughter is the best medicine.” That’s a favorite adage because it is true. There has been research proving laughter eases depression.
This means you need to find ways to laugh more, especially during the seasons in which you feel you have depression.
Watching comedy movies and television shows is an easy way to boost your mood. If you don’t like fictional shows, watch nonfiction or partially scripted shows with humor.
Other ways to laugh include going to a comedy club, have a game night with friends, or search funny memes on social media.
Tips Regarding Natural Remedies
Natural remedies can take longer to go into effect than synthetic medicines. If you are not feeling their effects right away, don’t give up and don’t start taking double or triple doses.
Instead, be patient.
Because you know natural remedies can take longer, try starting them one or two months before the season begins. If you feel most depressed during January and February, start taking your chosen supplement and vitamins in November.
Prevention is always best. To prevent seasonal depression, start a healthy diet and exercise routine that is beneficial throughout the entire year.
Also, meeting with a counselor throughout the year is much better than trying to find a counselor when you are already feeling depressed.
Together, you and your counselor can create a natural remedy plan for seasonal depression so you can start the decade on the right foot.
Paradigm Austin is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.