For all intents and purposes, I am a really happy person. My ponytail bounces at a steady pace, and a Dua Lipa song on the radio can turn a slow-paced morning into a driver’s party — just ask my kids. And I try to live with my coffee cup (and wine glass) already considered half full. But these pastel pink glasses sometimes smudge. When they do, my more than a few daily Google searches look like this: “how to treat seasonal affective disorder.”
Perhaps you can contact. It’s that inevitable time of year when the sparkle of the holidays has faded, the New Year’s energy has waned, and the daily swaggers of Texas’ weird weather with their weekly mojo. I. It was around the end of February when I fell into a serious mental breakdown. It can sometimes be fought off with a fun dose of Mardi Gras, but when the last piece of King Cake is gone, SAD symptoms appear.
Feeling depressed is not a comfortable place for me, but I have learned that, like many people, the dark days of winter play an important role. It’s a seasonal thing, and definitely like flip flops coming this April in Austin, meh The feeling passed and I returned to my sunny self.
Like the hands of the clock, I’m here at the end of February and the nasty blah is back. So when I took a closer look at why this happens year after year, I realized that – seasonal affective disorder.
Today, when I feel the doldrums start to creep in and need a bit of motivation, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. All thanks to integrative primary care physician, Dr. Jessica Chernetsky, MD from West Holistic Medicine based in Austin. Recently, I chatted with Dr. Chernetsky to get some insider advice on what to do when seasonal affective disorder hits. Read my interview with Dr. Chernetsky below, along with tips for keeping the SAD screening going. And don’t miss our editor-approved collection of apps, add-ons, and devices to help you cope.
Featured image of Michelle Nash.
Let’s start with the basics — What is holistic medicine?
Holistic medicine is a form of healing that takes into account the person as a whole, including mind, body, spirit and emotions, with the ultimate goal of excellent health and wellness.
What exactly is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that describes episodes of major depression that frequently occur during specific seasons of the year. The most common form of SAD is winter depression. This often includes depression that begins in the fall or winter. Even without treatment, winter depression usually clears up on its own in the spring or summer. This usually happens every year, cyclically.
What are the symptoms of SAD? When is it most likely to appear?
Symptoms of SAD can manifest as sadness, guilt, worthlessness, sleep changes, loss of interest in activities a person was previously interested in, fatigue, decreased concentration, changes cravings, psychomotor agitation (anxiety) or coma, and even suicidal thoughts. The condition occurs on an annual basis, in remission during one time of the year and worsening during another.
Who is affected by SAD? Are there areas of the world where it is more common?
In the general population, about 0.5 to 3% of the population is affected by SAD. Some studies have shown that SAD is somewhat more common in women. Onset of SAD usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 30 years. People who live in higher latitudes north, which is believed to receive less light during the winter, may be more affected by SAD than those who live closer to the equator. It is hypothesized that changes in daylight exposure cause circadian rhythm disturbances that, in addition to a number of genetic factors and dysregulation of certain neurotransmitters, lead to an increased likelihood of depression. generally higher.
What habits and lifestyle practices can help prevent SAD naturally?
Make sure to exercise regularly. The typical recommendation is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a day
week for ideal health benefits, (including mental health benefits!).
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes things like chicken, fish, lean meats, vegetables, and fruit. Be sure to keep processed foods to a minimum.
Daily walk outside. Notwithstanding of weather. Daily walking time can be long or short depending on your needs. I recommend getting outside for at least 10 minutes a day, just a little bit of sun! Ideally, however, we should spend at least 30 minutes outside. If you can combine exercise during the day with getting outside, even better!
Maintain good sleep hygiene. When it comes to bedtime, consistency is key. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, including weekends. Keep your room dark, quiet and relaxing at night. Try to maintain a cooler temperature in your bedroom. Overheating at night can make you toss and turn. Good sleep hygiene also means no electronics in the room. Keep your phone away and don’t watch TV in your room. These can be difficult changes for most of us to make, so give it a go! Try to finish your last meal at least two hours before bedtime. Last but not least, exercise also plays a role in good sleep hygiene. Good exercise (preferably not within two hours of bedtime) can help you sleep well at night.
Increase indoor light. This is especially important during the winter months. I can recommend to patients that they try a light therapy box, which emits a bright light that mimics what a person would encounter naturally outdoors. This is essentially direct exposure to natural light that increases the “happy neurotransmitters” in the brain.
What can you do to help ease SAD symptoms?
If, despite the above measures, a person still has SAD, initial medical treatment for SAD includes antidepressants given during the season(s) a person is affected by SAD, light therapy (bright light therapy, sunrise simulation, or both), and psychotherapy, also known as counseling.
When is a good time to see a specialist?
If you are experiencing SAD and your life is negatively impacted by any of these symptoms, please contact a holistic health care provider. We specialize in working with the whole person, mind, body, spirit and emotions, and can help you feel better soon.
Check out our editor-approved apps, plugins, and devices below to help you naturally prevent SAD.
Do you have additional tips for when SAD is up and running? We’d love to hear your coping strategies in the comments.