Winter Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Where do you fit?
How to Overcome Fall and Winter Blues
Now that fall is upon us you may be dreading the crisp, clean air and the falling leaves; because they remind you of shorter days and colder weather.
To overcome this you can think of hay rides, the excitement of Halloween, the warm fuzzy feeling you get at Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Think Back to Your Childhood
Do you have any happy childhood memories such as raking leaves with your family, making snow angels with your friends, building a snowman, or tobogganing?
Winter Darkness, Season Depression
According to an article on Web MD, feeling depressed during winter is a disorder that is not completely understood.
"Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. But researchers agree that people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it."
Fall often brings a feeling of bleakness; because days of being out in the sun all day are over. The temperature drops, and soon the ground will be covered in snow.
It seems as though there is nothing to look forward to.
But, it doesn't have to be like that. Fall is a time for new beginnings - a time to reflect on your life as you look forward to the new year.
To embrace this new season all you need to do is change your mindset and turn your focus to other things that make you happy, besides the weather.
For others though, Winter is more than just a change in the weather, they experience a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We'll look at how to deal with SAD, but first let's look at Winter Depression.
Surviving Winter Depression Due to Darkness
Perhaps you suffer from 'winter depression' because of the darkness. If you do, below are non-medical ways you can deal with SAD:
Eat Other Tryptophan-Rich Foods
You can eat more of the following foods to lift your spirits in the Winter:
- Basmati rice
- Cooked Cereals
- Fruit: Apricots apples, pears, grapes, plums, grapefruits and oranges.
Increase Your Exposure to Light
Natural Light: Get natural light from outside as much as you can between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. If you can't get outside in the early morning, shoot for lunch time.
You can also make sure your curtains and shades are up, and try to stay in the sunniest room during the day.
Another option to getting more light without having to go outside is using a light box.
SAD Recommended Foods to Eat During the Winter Months
According to an article on the How Stuff Works website, titled 5 Home Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder, the writer has some non-medical suggestions for dealing with SAD, and watching what you eat can help:
"The carbohydrate craving common in people with this disorder is thought to be caused by decreased levels of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin. Since tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, taking in more of this amino acid may increase the body's production of serotonin and help you feel better. Although there is no solid research that supports the benefits of eating tryptophan-rich foods, you might want to try eating more of these foods to see if your symptoms improve."
Foods containing the most tryptophan:
- Egg Whites
Harvard Health - The Connection Between Light and SAD
According to the Harvard website, SAD is linked to lack of light starting in the fall and lasting until the Spring. Although experts debate if the lack of sunlight triggers SAD, there is circumstantial evidence to support it.
In this regard, The Harvard Health Letter discusses three theories:
- The root cause for SAD may be insensitivity to light, and indoor light offsets it. But indoor light may be too week for people suffering from SAD.
- The lack of daylight may put people with SAD out of whack with their biological clocks - awake and active when their internal timers want them sleeping.
- An insensitivity to, or lack of light, may disrupt brain processes that are influenced by dopamine and serotonin - the brain chemicals that play a role in mood.
"Light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a bright light for a short time each day, helps some people who suffer from SAD."
Bright Light Therapy - Sit in Front of a Bright Light
Amazon's SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp
According to the Mayo Clinic, Light therapy boxes can offer effective treatment for SAD.
"A light box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD. Most people use light boxes for a minimum of 30 minutes each morning.
You can buy a light box over the counter, or your doctor may recommend a specific light box. Most health insurance plans do not cover the cost."
You can buy these lamps at different internet retail stores, and Amazon, has a couple different options
Amazon's Light Therapy Box
- System includes 10,000-lux light therapy and negative ion therapy
- Balances your body clock, leaving you feeling rested, refreshed, and nourished all over
- Can alleviate the nagging symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Clinical studies show that ion therapy provides an automatic antidepressant effect within a few days of use
- • Recommended by Columbia Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatry Institute
- Not to be used by people with Bi-polar disorder
Does the Fall Season Make You Want To Hide?
Tips to Overcome Winter If you Don't Suffer From SAD
Change Your Mindset
If you don't suffer with SAD, how about changing your mindset? Stop thinking of the change in weather as negative, and think of the fall season as a magical time that brings lots of fun and exciting activities.
Fight that melancholy feeling and the desire to bury yourself to hide from the cold.
Reinvent Yourself and Uncover Your Destiny
How to Deal With Major Changes
Perhaps your life is changing as the seasons change too.
You may be going through some personal upheaval, or a major milestone in your life. As the leaves fall this autumn, you may feel as though your life is falling too.
The Huffington Post has a great article with 7 tips to deal with major life changes.
- Get emotional if you need to.
- Give yourself permission to be vulnerable.
- Remember you are never alone.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Realize you can adapt to anything.
- Have hope for the future.
- Although you will grow, you are still the same.
Improve Your LIfe While you Wait for Spring
Why not take this time to contemplate your life and improve upon it? Take an inward journey which will have you blossoming anew with the flowers in spring.
How can you Improve Your Life?
- Feast your mind and soul with delicious Tryptophan-rich foods this fall season.
- Just like your body, when you give your mind good things to digest, it will grow strong and healthy. Find out how to embrace your life and live it to your fullest potential.
- A positive outlook can be fostered with the proper care, and by taking in quality materials you'll be well on your way. Why give into a gloomy mood just because the sky is gray? - If you need help looking at your life from a different angle, this article can help you do that.
- You can use this fall season to undertake a course of self-improvement and discovery, by starting a journal.
- If procrastination is a problem you face, you can find out how to overcome procrastination and become a person of action by clicking here.
How do you feel about reinventing yourself?
Shanghai Snow Carnival
Fun Winter Activities
There are many fun things to do in the Winter. In fact, there are countries who would die to have snow. So much so that there are snow carnivals that travel to countries such as Shanghai so they can enjoy what we take for granted.
Below are some examples of things you can try this Winter to spruce up your life.
10 Different Things to do This Winter
The Real Simple website has an article with 50 fun Winter activities. Such as:
- Catching snow flakes with your tongue
- Collect pine cones
- Re-read a favorite book from your childhood
- Bake cookies and share them
- Go snowshoeing
- Relax and watch the snow fall
- Mail a handwritten card to an old friend
- Wear red
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
You don't have to sit around the house just because it's cold outside. The more active you are, the more you'll enjoy yourself.
Emerge in the Spring Recharged
New Beginnings - A Brand New You!
Take some time this Autumn and Winter to reflect on what you want the next phase of your life to look like, and write down tangible goals.
Once you see your goals in writing, your thoughts will become clear and real in a way that no other approach will. Deciding what direction to take can restore the energy and enthusiasm you might lose otherwise.
Once you envision your goals do at least one thing a day that gets you closer to accomplishing them. If you do this every day you'll have reinvented yourself by the time Summer returns and be on an exciting new journey.
Inevitable Change - Poem
Autumn ushers in
transformation when it comes
the world it covers
a bridge between the
bustling life of summer fun
and barren winter
yet, even as leaves
change in color and transform
the autumn season
fall is a time of
inevitable change, which
to rebirth after
the long stillness of the cold
harsh days of winter.
even though the earth
is quiet and life can't be
seen, beneath the crest
new beginnings bud
autumn simply demonstrates
with this mindset, you
can see the beauty in all
bleak, lonesome seasons.
soon cold nights will come
leaves fall to the ground and rest
yet next flowers bloom