What Is Seasonal Depression?
Seasonal depression is a chemical phenomenon that is rooted in the brain, emerging only during specific seasons.
While some individuals thrive emotionally during the spring and summer, others succumb to depressive episodes during the winter and fall.
While anyone can suffer from this disorder, it affects specific populations at disproportionate rates.
If you fit the following demographic categories, then you may have a statistically higher likelihood of developing this condition.
Females, those with a hereditary links to this condition, as well as individuals between 15 and 55 are more likely to succumb to this illness.
Furthermore, those who undergo drastic changes in daylight also have a heightened sensitivity to this condition.
While the primary cause behind seasonal depression remains unfounded, there is a general consensus in the medical community about its likely origin.
Essentially, a lack of sunlight can adversely affect one’s circadian rhythms and sleep wake cycles, and this can deplete serotonin levels in the brain.
The symptoms of this illness include weight gain, excessive sleeping, drowsiness, sadness, irritability, and indifference to one’s favorite activities. Normally, these symptoms emerge and disappear during designated times of the year.
The diagnostic criteria for seasonal affective depression are relatively clear. The first diagnostic key is to assess the timing of one’s depression.
If it occurs without fail during the same time of year, each year, this may signal the presence of seasonal depression.
If specific symptoms coexist with this condition (including anger, irritability and weight gain), then seasonal depression may be a factor.
Managing Seasonal Depression
There are a number of different ways to manage your bouts with seasonal affective depression.
#1: One of the most acclaimed therapies for this condition is that of bright light treatment. This particular treatment entails sitting in front of a vividly lit light box, for at least 30 minutes during the morning.
This therapy is designed to mimic the effects of sunlight, and steadily increase the quantity of serotonin in the brain.
#2: Dawn treatment happens to be a highly effective alternative for those who suffer from this disorder.
This treatment involves the use of dim lighting in the morning, which steadily increases in brightness as one is sleeping. This is designed to mimic the stages of sunrise.
#3: In severe cases, antidepressants may be prescribed. Some regions of the world experience what is referred to as a midnight sun, or an extended period of time without sufficient sunlight-typically for a few months. In extenuating circumstances such as these, seasonal depression is far more common in the population.
#4: Counseling is a safe alternative for those who fear the effects of medication. Counseling normally entails cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to modify one’s perception and mode of thinking.
During cognitive behavioral therapy, an individual simply replaces negative thoughts with positive, constructive ones, tailored to their immediate situation and needs.
#5: Make an extensive list of your most cherished friends, loved ones, experiences, hobbies and possessions, in accordance with your pursuit of happiness. Gratitude will prove to be a critical factor in your recovery from seasonal affective depression.
#6: Give or receive a hug. Cuddle with your pet, or even your significant other. Affection produces a marked increase in serotonin, and healthy, social interactions are correlated with strong immune systems, as well. A genuine bond can forge a resounding sense of connectedness to others.
#7: If you are seeking an immediate mood enhancer, consider socializing with your friends. Even if seasonal changes are characterized by a decrease in light, you can pursue healthy activities that counterbalance the effects of weather shifts.
#8: Engage in a regular exercise routine. In addition to enhancing your mood, exercise can fortify your self image, encourage healthier and more regulated sleep patterns, and optimize your body’s immune functions and mental clarity.
#9: Countless scientific studies have uncovered the immense power of meditation. Meditation restructures the brain, and increases the quantity and volume of grey matter, as well. The density and volume of one’s grey matter is often linked to their intelligence and cognitive functions.
As meditation begins to restructure your brain, you begin to perceive situations with greater ease, rationality, and confidence. Furthermore, you bolster your capacity to self-regulate.
#10: Set attainable goals situated around your emotional and mental needs. Expel toxic fixtures and energies from your life especially those that contribute to your depression. Aim for attainable, positive, constructive goals.
#11: Attempt to perceive beauty in seasonal changes, as taxing as this may be. Doing so will provide you with a healthy change in perspective.