For people that experience depression mainly during certain times of the year (usually winter), they may be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD as it is commonly called. The symptoms are associated not only with the coldness and darkness of winter but specifically with the shortness of days which can disrupt the body’s hormone levels. Although it is a difficult to disorder to fully prevent, it is possible for people to prepare for the season and ease some of their symptoms in the winter.
One way to prepare for seasonal depression is to start changing your internal clock before winter by waking up earlier and spending the morning in a well lit area. This will allow your body to adjust to shorter days and ease the transition into winter.
Light box therapy is also a very useful tool for SAD to help people cope with the lack of sunlight during winter. A light box exposes you to 10,000 lux brightness which can help ease symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, irritability and lack of energy. Taking walks in the afternoon when the midday sun is at its brightest can also help you get as much sunlight as possible.
Exercise can also be crucial for people with all types of depression, including SAD. Starting a regular exercise routine before winter can help you get your health up to speed so that you can minimize the effects of seasonal depression. Focusing on health in general can help with depression as well such as eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep every night.
If your symptoms of SAD are very severe you can even consider taking a trip to a warm, sunny place for a vacation at the beginning of winter. The important thing is to stay healthy and get as much sunlight and warmth as possible to minimize the effects of SAD.