If you suffer from winter depression, then you may feel like you are living half a life, because you only feel fully functional during the spring and summer. When others are embracing fall weather and happily shopping for those warm, cozy winter sweaters, you may be looking at the clock at dusk and dreading when the sun begins setting even earlier. Thankfully, you don't have to suffer through another spell of winter depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), when you follow these three steps to finally getting rid of it for good.
1. Take a Long Walk in the Sun Every Morning or Early Afternoon
While it may sound too simple to help ease your winter depression, taking a walk every morning or early afternoon during the fall and winter can really help improve your mood for several reasons. First, while walking is not the most rigorous workout, if you maintain a relatively fast stride, you can get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Numerous studies have shown that getting some daily exercise can greatly ease depression symptoms, no matter what time of year they occur.
The two other benefits of walking outside in the sunshine are due to the sun. When the sun hits your skin, your body creates vitamin D naturally. Studies have shown that increased vitamin D intake (or natural production) can help ease depression. When the sun hits your eyes, it suppresses your body's production of a natural hormone called melatonin. When your eyes sense darkness, it sends a message to your brain to produce this hormone that promotes sleep. When days are very short during the winter, your body can create too much of this hormone, and this excess melatonin can cause you to feel sleepy during the daytime or experience the "brain fog" that often accompanies depression.
2. Use a SAD Light Box Daily
Unfortunately, there are many days in the winter when the natural sun is blocked by clouds, which can get in the way of you receiving all of the mood-boosting benefits of the sun during your walks. You may also have days when you are too busy for a long walk or have to skip it altogether.
While you cannot control the weather, you can buy a SAD light box that is specially made to emit light wavelengths that mimic those produced by the sun. A SAD light box is very easy to use, and all you have to do is set it about an arm's length from you when you are sitting and doing something for 15-45 minutes, such as reading or browsing the internet. Once you turn it on, it emits 10,000 LUX of full-spectrum light that provides the the melatonin-suppressing benefits of the sun.
There is a large variety of SAD light boxes on the market and prices vary. However, since it is a medical device, your health insurance policy may cover it if your psychiatrist provides a prescription for it.
3. Visit a Psychiatrist and Try an Antidepressant
While some people with mild seasonal depression can ward it off with non-medicinal treatments, others respond much better to a combination of natural and prescription depression treatments. To get a professional opinion on just how severe your depression is and what treatment will likely work best for you, make an appointment with a psychiatrist. When the day of your appointment arrives and you visit the doctor, he or she will first ask you what symptoms you are experiencing and ask you a few other questions about your day-to-day life and past.
Once your psychiatrist gets to know you, they will suggest a treatment plan to help you get rid of your winter depression for good. They may suggest trying a medication to see if it helps you, such as an SSRI, and/or recommend that you begin visiting a psychologist for counseling sessions. He or she will never force you to do anything you don't want to do but instead work with you to create a depression treatment plan that is effective for you and fits well into your lifestyle.
If you suffer from winter depression, then you are likely dreading the fact that fall and winter are coming soon, along with your depression symptoms. However, when you take these three steps, you can finally kiss your seasonal depression goodbye and begin living 12 months out of the year instead of just six.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have had bad asthma and allergies. I had to stay in the hospital several times when I was in elementary school just to help get my asthma under control and it seemed like I was trying medication after medication with little success. I don't remember all of my childhood health details, since I was so young, but my mother has "filled in the blanks" for me. Thanks to modern medicine and a natural remedy, my health conditions are currently under control and have been for a few years now. I am very grateful for my good health, and I want to "pay it back" to others by creating a blog where I will post my health tips. I hope I can help you learn how to achieve good health!