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I grew up in central Alaska. Where in the winter it is usually only light out from 11a to about 3p on the darkest day. It’s no wonder my mother, after 11 years of living there, had decided she had had enough and convinced my dad to move us back to Washington. She had seasonal depression that was amplified by living in such an isolating place. I didn’t end up with seasonal depression until about the age of 30. Fortunately, I didn’t have to move to deal with it.
People who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is the technical term for seasonal depression, are more likely to live farther from the equator. These areas tend to have shorter days, colder weather, and rain or snow which can contribute to this type of depression. I have maintained that this is the reason we drink so much coffee in the Pacific Northwest, it’s the only legal upper.
What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Depression?
Below are some of the symptoms that can appear when you have seasonal depression.
- Craving more carbs
- Anti-social behavior
- Sadness or frustration
- Lack of motivation
- Disruption of normal sleeping pattern
- Little desire to do things you used to enjoy
- Constant feeling of the blahs all day
Tips for Dealing With Seasonal Depression
When I was a little girl I knew my mother had a rough time living in Alaska. I knew in the winter she seemed to be a little sad and not her normal smiling happy self. So when I would go walking in the woods around the end of April, I would find her some pussy willow branches that had just started to get their fuzzy buds and bring them to her. She said that it always cheered her up knowing that when I brought her the willow branches spring was on its way.
There are many ways to cope with the depression that comes with broody weather. Some may work for you, some may not. I just tried different things until I found the routines and methods that worked for me.
- Buy a light therapy lamp.
- Take a refreshing shower or bath when you first wake up
- Drink your favorite tea or coffee
- Make sure to get out of the house at least once a day. Whether it’s to go for a walk or visit a friend.
- Clean the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Tidiness always brightens me up.
- Light your favorite scented candles.
- Take a multi-vitamin with a good dose of vitamin D. If you live in an area that experiences more darkness during the winter, this is essential for your health.
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. A good recommendation is to eat produce from every color of the rainbow a day.
- Get some exercise. Or find an indoor activity you love to do that gets you moving.
- Diffuse some bright smelling essential oils in a diffuser. I recommend peppermint, grapefruit, or orange.
- Do one thing you love every day. Drawing, playing a game with family, baking, etc….
- Spend time with God
Hope Comes With the Return of the Sun
It is always a good idea to mention your symptoms at your next doctor’s visit. They may decide to do some testing to be sure that it is just seasonal depression. Sometimes it can be other things like low iron, hormonal imbalance, or something else. Or it may be a lack of certain vitamins caused by less sunlight. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor whenever you feel a bit off from your normal self.
The good news about Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it is seasonal. And I have found over the years that I may get it one year and not the next. I think like any form of depression it’s all about finding the management plan that works for you. And with the coming of spring and the return of the sun, I usually find I’ve returned to my normal happier self.
It’s important to take care of your health and to notice when you experience changes. To seek appropriate medical guidance and to try and use preventative measures whenever possible. Seasonal depression can be lessened by some of the techniques I mentioned above. But if it gets worse please let someone know. And if you are feeling suicidal please call the number below for help.
We pray that this season brings joy and happiness to all our readers. God Bless.