As one of many different types of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people. In the United States, it's a common issue linked to the cold winter months, but in reality it can happen throughout the year. Many experts in the psychologist community report that people begin showing symptoms as early as September and they may suffer from the negative feelings associated with SAD as late as April or May. That means that in worse case scenarios, it's possible for someone to suffer from this mood disorder for as much as nine months out of the year.
In order to diagnose a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, it's important to see a psychologist. He or she will discuss the symptoms you're experiencing and confirm a diagnosis. The most common symptoms of SAD include low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and having a feeling of hopelessness in general. Furthermore, these people tend to oversleep and eat more, causing them to gain weight, which can deepen the depression. As with other types of depression, those affected may lose interest in hobbies and other activities they typically enjoy and may severely limit their social activity.
While a psychologist can give personalized advice and discuss a possible need for medication, there are also a handful of things people who suffer from SAD can do at home to alleviate the symptoms:
Being physically active will reduce the likelihood of an unhealthy weight gain and will stimulate endorphins, which can naturally enhance your mood. Group workouts also encourage social interaction with others.
Spending time outside triggers neurotransmitters that can positively impact your mood. Make it a part of your daily routine to go for a quick walk, even during cold weather.
It's important to spend time with friends, family, and coworkers to lift your spirits. Plan a weekly dinner out with friends or host a casual get together at your home.
People who are successfully able to associate positive activities with winter weather can get tremendous relief from their SAD symptoms. Take up snowshoeing, skiing, or another winter activity to give you something to look forward to during the cold weather.
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