It’s chilly, dark, and cloudy for much of the day, triggering some North Dakotans to experience the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

Depressive disorders associated with seasonal fluctuations include seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Every year, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) starts and finishes around the same time.

Your symptoms, which deplete your energy and make you feel moody, begin in the fall and last throughout the winter, if you're like the majority of people with SAD. The spring and summer are when these symptoms usually go away.

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Less frequently, depression brought on by SAD sets in in the spring or early summer and goes away in the fall or winter.

What Are The Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms typically start in late fall or early winter and disappear in the spring and summer when the weather gets warmer. Individuals following the reverse pattern, less frequently, get symptoms in the spring or summer. In either scenario, as the season wears on, symptoms could first be moderate before getting worse.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling listless, sad or down most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish
  • Having problems with sleeping too much
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Increased irritability

How To Help Seasonal Affective Disorder At Home?

1 Get outdoors. Studies show that spending time in the great outdoors improves our mental and physical well-being. Due to the shortened daytime hours, most people regrettably spend less time outside during the colder months, just when we should be soaking in the sun's rays. Another great strategy for overcoming depression and weariness is to be active. A quick ten-minute walk in the morning can have a significant impact.

2. Be mind-body fitness focused. Our physical and emotional identities are impacted by yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation practices. They can enhance resilience, strength, breathing capacity, balance, and focus. Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness-based stress reduction can be just as successful as medicine at lowering anxiety, which typically coexists with depression. Naturally, there are advantages to using mind-body techniques all year round, not only when you're down. These therapies are beneficial at controlling anxiety and depression as well as mood, according to meta-analyses of the research.

3. Plan social engagements. Because they were forced to stay indoors for months during the COVID-19 epidemic and work from home or in a hybrid arrangement, many people have experienced an increase in isolation. This tendency to withdraw is often made worse by the cold weather. Even though it could be tempting to stay indoors and watch TV when it's gloomy and cold outside, social interaction can make us feel better. Make time in your calendar to spend with your loved ones, whether that's through participating in neighborhood recreational activities, inviting friends around, or going to a cafe for dinner.

4. Let the sunshine in. To make up for the lack of sunlight during the shorter winter months, use light therapy lamps and keep your window coverings open on sunny days. An analysis of research evaluating the impact of light therapy lamps on depression has demonstrated that bright light therapy is useful for elevating mood and simulating outdoor light. A few medical practitioners advise those suffering from SAD to spend thirty minutes each morning in front of a light box.

5. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, get exercise, and speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.

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