(image: Sydney Sims: Unsplash).
It’s a day like every other day before, but you can’t find the motivation to follow your typical routine. On average, you’d jump out of bed, drink a hot cup of coffee, and catch up with morning shows and podcasts before hitting the gym or work. But you somehow don’t feel like doing anything today; this happens at a particular time of year.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression associated with seasonal changes, e.g., winter, fall (autumn), or summer. People tend to associate seasonal depression with “winter blues,” but it also appears in other seasons, and how to differentiate it from sadness is that SAD occurs in the same season every year for you.
Symptoms of seasonal depression
The symptoms of seasonal depression are divided into three categories:
● Loss of interest in activities you enjoy
● Sluggishness or hyperactivity
● Low moods that last all day, every day
● Insomnia or oversleeping
● Increased carbohydrate craving
● Loss of focus
● Low energy
● Suicidal ideation
Fall and winter SAD
Seasonal depression in the winter typically starts in the fall and lasts until after the winter, and these are the symptoms:
● Craving foods high in carbohydrates
● Weight gain
Spring and summer SAD
Summer depression is more common during spring until summer, and the symptoms include:
● Weight loss
● Increased irritability
Are you slipping into seasonal depression?
As somebody who experiences seasonal depression in the winter, I can subjectively say there’s no ultimate method to cure or treat SAD, but there are tips to help you navigate it.
Tip #1: Identify the events that lead up to the seasonal depression
Are you in college and anxious about going home for winter break? Or you’re a mom about to spend her entire summer with extended family and it’s sapping your energy? It’s best to understand what happens when you experience seasonal depression so you understand the major problem and how to tackle it.
Tip #2: Don’t spend time alone
I understand how tempting it is to avoid people when you’re in a low mood, but spending time alone can make you brood over your intrusive thoughts, keeping you in a more depressed state. It’s best to invite your friends over if you don’t have the energy to see them and feel able to have them round. You don’t have to go too far out of the house or your comfort zone as long as you don’t spend too much time isolated.
Tip #3: Say NO to plans that make you feel uncomfortable
When you’re experiencing seasonal depression, you could be inclined to accept invitations just to escape the feeling of sadness, guilt and worthlessness. But you will only feel more drained by going to places you don’t want to be. Look after yourself.
The ultimate hack that works for me during seasonal depression is being open about my suicidal ideation. Whether it’s second-hand suicidal or intrusive thoughts, I have a friend I can be vulnerable around, and I tell them everything that goes on in my mind during that period.
“What if they get tired of listening to me complain?”
It’s normal to feel guilty when you constantly complain to one person about your problems – you could feel like a burden and want to step back. But if that trusted friend or family member has never told you to stop talking or coming to them, you should keep going to them. And if that friend ever tells you that they are tired of hearing you complain, it doesn’t mean they hate you – your friends have probably internalised your problems too much and need a step back before continuing to be there for you.
In all, don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel when you experience seasonal depression, and remember, it will pass, so don’t make permanent decisions during that period.
I’m rooting for you and believe you’ll see better mental health days this year and beyond.
Obehi Iyobhebhe is a freelance writer in the business and psychology space. She’s passionate about helping people improve their life’s quality by paying attention to their mental health.
Obehi is also interested in helping entrepreneurs hit their business goals by creating blogs and email campaigns to generate leads.
You can find her here: https://ehinotes.medium.com/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/obehi-iyobhebhe/