posted: Oct 11, 2021
Time to Read: 3 minutes
Summer is officially over. The leaves are changing color. The weather is getting cooler. Pumpkin spiced everything is everywhere. It’s socially acceptable to pull out your boots and scarves. You might even need a jacket in the mornings and evenings. October tends to bring in all sorts of changes, both individually and collectively as a society.
This is the time of year when many people start to notice a decline in their mental health. All of a sudden, their energy level is lower than normal. They’re sleeping more, eating more, less interested in the things that normally bring joy. They begin to feel like a shell of themselves.
Why does this happen?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as, SAD, is a type of depression that only occurs during the colder months. It typically begins in the fall and continues throughout the winter. The specific cause of SAD is still largely unknown, but there are a few things that have been shown to increase you’re likelihood of experiencing this. These things include:
- decreased exposure to sunlight. Less sunlight can disrupt your body’s internal clock, which can throw your hormones out of whack.
- reduced levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that helps your body to regulate mood and memory. Less serotonin = Less happiness.
- disruption of melatonin levels. Melatonin is a chemical that your body uses to manage your sleep wake cycles. Darkness in your environment sends your body a signal to produce more melatonin, which makes you more tired.
Symptoms of SAD are serious and should be taken seriously.
What can I do about it?
If you think that you are experiencing these symptoms, here are some options of things that you can do.
1. Talk to a mental health professional.
Your mental health professional will be able to assess your symptoms using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and other psychological assessments. Following this, you will be able to make a plan to address your symptoms.
2. Change your diet.
Increasing your intake of foods like beans, eggs, leafy greens, and nuts can provide your body with more of the nutrients that it needs to produce serotonin.
3. Move your body.
Getting 30 minutes of cardio daily and incorporating 2 days of weight lifting is also recommended for giving your body a boost of serotonin.
4. Light exposure.
During the fall/winter, try to make an effort to spend 15 minutes outside daily. If that is not possible, light therapy might be a good option for you.
5. Massage therapy.
Getting a massage has also been shown to improve serotonin levels and can be a great option. Getting a massage from a friend or partner has been shown to decrease stress and increase serotonin significantly.
Your medical professional might also be willing to prescribe an antidepressant for you during this time period. Each person’s body is different so do your research on medications and if you think that they might be a good fit for you.
Whichever route you decide to take, please take action. Depression, no matter how temporary, can be problematic. Don’t ignore your symptoms. Get the help you need.
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Next week’s blog: Burn out