Seasonal Affective Disorder: Start Treating in EARLY Autumn
If you know that you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), be pro-active. For goodness sakes, does it make any sense to wait until there are only 8 hours of daylight to begin helping yourself? Of course not. The challenge to prevent or reduce the depression you get from lack of full-spectrum daylight exists the moment the Summer Solstice ends. Days grow shorter and darkness grows longer.
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Be Aggressively PRO-ACTIVE
Fight SAD in the same way that medical professionals want patients to fight pain. Don’t wait until you are in its grips; fight it before it becomes strong and keep a lid on its potency.
Go outside for any excuse and for even brief amounts of time during the workday. If you bring your lunch from home, plan to take a short walk around the building at your meal break. If you leave your work area to eat, try to find a spot in the lunchroom or restaurant close to a window. Even doing a drive-through meal pick-up can work well for someone with SAD. If you pick up your food and then park your car – outside – you can eat your lunch sitting in the front seat with its expansive window. Ta-da: daylight.
When you are at home, try to be in areas which receive light while it is light outside. If you have outdoor chores, such as bringing in the garbage cans, do them while there is daylight.
Do Nice Things for Yourself
Do nice things for yourself. Whatever it is which relaxes you or “takes you away” (in the words of past Calgon ads) to a better place, try to schedule it into most of your days. This, of course, can be very hard for working parents, people doing the tasks of three in the downsized job market, and so on. However, I am suggesting even a mere ten minutes per day of reading a book, playing piano, shooting some hoops, or whatever to be good to yourself will help. Give it a try.
Use Artificial Sunlamps EARLY
Pull out your artificial full spectrum lights in September if you are in the northern hemisphere. Don’t wait until sunset occurs at 5:00 P.M. Start the sunlight replacement early and continue it until late spring.
Consider consulting your health care advisor for anti-depressant medication or a stepped-up dose if you sink to the bottom of the elevator shaft in mood. Deep depression is not something to bear with a grimace. Seek out an evaluation to determine if medication is warranted.
Get a Doctor's Note
Ask your doctor to write a brief note stating that you require a work area as close to natural light as possible. This is not intended to put one in the esteemed “corner office.” It is just a way to have you placed in a cubicle or area which actually has sight of a window. When I asked my doctor for such a note, she immediately jotted one out. These days in the United States, companies are mandated to make reasonable accommodations for employees with handicaps. I feel that many businesses go to extremes making unreasonable changes to avoid being sued for non-compliance of the law. Therefore, the “sunlight note” will probably be useful and hopefully easy to accomodate, if it is possible in your line of employment.
Be Aware and Take Control
If you know or suspect that you have seasonal affective disorder, combat the tendency towards depression by
- Going outside
- Nurturing yourself
- Using artificial full-spectrum lighting
- Seeking advice and care from a health professional
- Making adaptations at work
It will be worth it to remain a functioning, happy person all year long.
Photo and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan.