By Andrew Lopez
Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that affects many people. What it means is that an affected individual will feel increased mental health symptoms including things like anxiety and depression during a particular season. While this is most commonly associated with winter it can be other seasons as well. In my case (and in many others) Winter is especially hard because of the shorter amount of daylight hours and the increased amount of cloud cover which blocks sunlight. For other individuals changes in the temperature can also trigger SAD.
I experience abnormally high amounts of my depression symptoms including loss of hope, loss of motivation, feeling numb, and having a significant loss of energy. I also get interruptions to my sleep schedule and overall less sleep. Self-care for seasonal affective disorder can vary greatly and I encourage people to talk with both their doctors and their mental health professionals about different treatments. I use a SAD light (otherwise known as a full-spectrum light). This is light that imitates the light we experience from the sun. I use mine for anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day and do notice a small but significant decrease in my symptoms. To counter some of the sleep-related issues I take a melatonin tablet an hour before bedtime and this helps me get restful sleep. Getting regular exercise also helps.
I hope those reading this understand that this is a very common condition and that if you’re experiencing the symptoms you’re not alone. As with any mental health condition I hope you’re all able to walk your own paths to recovery and consider the different options for treatment.