Seasonal Affective Disorder: What It Is and How to Help

October is here and the cooler months are just around the corner. For a majority of people, this brings out feelings of happiness and celebration. It means seeing family, trick or treating, eating Thanksgiving dinner, going ice skating with friends, and celebrating Christmas. For others, the colder months might bring up feelings of depression, hopelessness, sadness, fatigue, and withdrawal. For those that experience the latter, this is considered seasonal affective disorder. Over three million people in the United States alone struggle with seasonal affective disorder. That’s why we think it is about time that we talk about it, learn more about it, and find out how we can help.


What It Is:

It is important to note that seasonal affective disorder can happen with any kind of season change, though it is most common with the change of warm months to colder months. According to the Mayo Clinic, many people go undiagnosed, as the symptoms start off mild and get worse as the months get colder. This often leads people to the “toughen it out” mindset as the winter season may almost be over. Some of the first symptoms to look out for in yourself or others include, low energy, lack of interest, difficulty concentrating, and changes in weight or appetite. 


When to Seek Professional Help:

Now the aforementioned paragraph may resonate with you or someone you know. So when should you seek professional help? It is completely normal that you may feel down or sad some days, but when that starts to become the majority of your days, that may be a tell-tale sign. Also, be sure to ask yourself how debilitating the symptoms are to you. If the symptoms start to interfere with your everyday tasks, that is another sign to seek help. Lastly, if you have any feelings of self harm or suicide, please do not hesitate to reach out to your nearest professional. 


Coping Mechanisms and Helpful Tips:

One of the most common treatments for seasonal affective disorder is light lamps. These are lamps that provide a sun-like lighting that can supply your body with appropriate vitamins, such as vitamin D. This is often the first course of action that is taken for someone suffering from seasonal affective disorder. You can get these lamps anywhere from Walmart to Amazon. Another common tip or treatment is to take a daily vitamin that can help supply your body with what it may be missing in the colder months. Make sure that you consult your doctor on which vitamins may be appropriate for you and your body. If neither of these seem to be working for you, that is when your doctor may suggest therapy and/or medication. One, multiple, or all of these, may be just what your body needs to help improve.

How Choices for Life Can Help:

Here at Choices for Life, we offer a wide variety of counseling services. Having a great therapist that you can trust and talk through things with is a great step in the right direction. We strive to provide comprehensive services for children, adolescents and families with mental health or substance use issues that support the individual in their recovery, stability and wellness. Please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us, we would love to speak with you.