Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the winter days get shorter, colder and darker, finding motivation for the little things becomes more difficult. Most animals in the midwest are taking a much-needed slumber at the moment, but us humans feel the need to continue working at the same pace while balancing a social life. 

When the season changes, it is common to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), especially during these cold, winter months. 

According to Mayo Clinic, SAD is a form of depression connected to the changing of seasons, most commonly starting in fall and carrying into winter. Symptoms include feelings of sadness during most of the day, loss of interest, low energy, oversleeping, concentration difficulties, gaining weight and feeling hopeless. 

As the second semester arrived along with the first heavy snowfalls in Mankato, the “winter blues” some of us are feeling could potentially be SAD. Instead of brushing off these negative mood swings, taking the right steps to treat the disorder is vital. 

One of the most effective treatments for SAD is psychotherapy. At Minnesota State, there is counseling available through Student Health Services to help ease SAD. There are also multiple businesses in the surrounding area that accept many different insurances for affordable therapy. Although it can be difficult to be vulnerable, SAD is harder to go through alone; having a support system is effective in treating SAD. 

An alternative treatment for this disorder is light therapy, or phototherapy. Using a light box, which is designed to produce a therapeutic dose of bright light, is intended to treat SAD. Light therapy replicates outdoor light to change negative moods. There are multiple different kinds to choose from, but it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to select the right one for you. 

Another treatment for severe cases of SAD is medication. Antidepressants may prevent depressive episodes related to SAD, but need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider before use. 

Winter is a difficult time for many, but these discussed treatments can ease symptoms of SAD. Most of all, it is important to be aware of this disorder rather than toughing out negative mood swings. Every person is different, but winter takes a toll on our minds and bodies more than we may consider. 

The feelings of joy that take place once the snow melts and winter turns into spring is something to look forward to, but keeping a positive and sound mind while we get there is just as important.

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