Sometimes seasonal affective disorder is equated with depression but they are two very different things. For one, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, occurs at certain times of the year, usually when there is limited amounts of sunlight. Sunlight assists in increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that affects mood. When levels drop, changes in your behavior and feelings can result.
The blues can jump the gap and enter into the realm of depression. If you have a history of depression in your family, you are more at risk to bridge that gap. Also, not addressing the reason for the blues or if it lasts longer than the season, that could reflect some sort of further chemical imbalance in the brain at work.
So, how do you know if you have the winter blues? Because it is thought to be a mild form of depression, some of the same symptoms apply. There is irritability, loss of appetite or increased appetite, loss of energy, lack of motivation and sadness.
By using techniques to try and treat your symptoms, you can tell if you are experiencing seasonal affective disorder or a more serious form of depression.
* Exercise – Exercise is not just for weight loss but also mental health management. Endorphins are released during exercise that can elevate your mood. For those who suffer from stress, your enhanced mental state can help you to work through those problems more clearly, reducing your stress level.
* Meditate – When the feelings of sadness hit, try and relax. Take time for yourself and go someplace quiet. Practice deep breathing techniques to increase your oxygen consumption. Listen to music in those moments. Music does have the ability to change the way that we feel simply by using different rhythms, notes and chords.
* Get moving – The winter may not seem so long if you get involved. Try to spend time outside with your kids playing in the snow. Try a winter sport as a form of exercise.
* Use light – The level of natural light available may decrease as you go up in elevation. You may need to use light boxes to simulate natural light. Spend at least 30 minutes a day using it to see if it increases your mood. A therapist can perform the light therapy for you to be sure you get the right amount and length of time.