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FITNESS

Wellness

Read this if you feel depressed in the winter

Do you get down in the dumps every year as soon as the weather gets cold? Well, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (known as SAD) without even realizing it. 

SAD is a serious problem for about 10 million Americans and it's four times more likely to affect women than men. It's usually due to a disruption in your circadian rythm due the decrease in sunlight, a reduced serotonin level and/or a change in melatonin levels, the chemical that's related to sleep pattern and emotions. Which means it can *majorly* impact your overall mood and energy levels.

Some signs (besides the obvious) that you may have SAD are oversleeping all the time, weight gain, constant fatigue, irritability and a lack of motivation.

Luckily, there are a lot of tips and resources to help you survive the fall and winter months, like the ones listed below.

1. See your doctor
If the syptoms are causing you to be unable to enjoy your normal daily activites or get things accomplished, you should absolutely talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide the best help for dealing with SAD and possibly prescribe medication, if neccessary.

2. Try therapy
There are two types of therapy commonly recommended for those suffering from seasonal depression: psychotherapy and light therapy. Psycohtherapy is just a fancy word for talking to a therapist that analyzes you and helps with identifying and coping with negative patterns caused by the depression.

Light therapy, however, is probably the most common cure for SAD and involves being exposed to special lights that imitate natural sunlight and help stimulate chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. You can buy a special lamp (called a light therapy box) to sit on your desk while you do homework or read a book to reap the benefits.

3. Let light in
While light therapy boxes are a great option, nothing beats the real sun so open your windows and take daily walks outside. The sun and light increase seretonin, which can boost your mood. You can also use an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise so you wake up to a brightly lit room.

4. Pay attention to your diet and exercise
Try to eat foods rich in B vitamis, folic acid and thiamine, like, avocados, spinach and nuts. And avoid eating a lot of processed carbs as these foods can make you even more tired (no thanks!). Don't forget to get moving a few times a week, too. Exercising makes you feel good inside and out and causes the brain to release serotonin. 

5. Manage stress
Don't leave all of your assignments and projects for the last minute. Prioritize your time and try to get things done as they come along. Keeping your stress level down can be a big help in maintaining your mood.  

Dealing with seasonal depression can make you dread the fall and winter but with these tips you can take steps toward feeling better and stop fearing the cold months. Take care of yourself because you deserve to have fun and enjoy life all year round. 

Are you dealing with seasonal depression? Tell us what it's like below!

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by Lauren McMillan | 12/6/2017
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