ABH Maryland

How To Best Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder


How To Best Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Mental Health

Every year, we set our clocks forward in the spring just to “fall back” an hour in autumn. However, that sweet extra hour of sleep also means less daylight, more cold weather, and a host of mental health symptoms.

In fact, this simple time change has been linked to the start of seasonal affective disorder for many people — but it doesn’t have to take over your life every year.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a depressive period that usually occurs in autumn and winter, though it can be part of any season — even summer. Experts believe this seasonal depression is brought on by a lack of natural sunlight.

Some symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
  • Low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling agitated or sluggish
  • Losing interest in hobbies and favorite activities
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having frequent thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide

In the fall and winter, symptoms also often include oversleeping, weight gain, tiredness, and cravings for carbohydrates.

In the spring and summer, however, can include weight loss, anxiety, insomnia, and poor appetite.

How to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder comes every year for most, but it doesn’t have to ruin your holiday season. There are a few ways to combat seasonal affective disorder no matter when it appears.

The most popular treatment for seasonal affective disorder by far is a simple light therapy. Also known as phototherapy, this is a simple option you can do any time from home!

woman light therapy

A light therapy box simply mimics outdoor light from the sun in the comfort of your home. When looking for a light therapy box, look for one that provides up to 10,000 lux of light and emits as little UV light as possible for protection. Also, sunscreen is recommended during any light therapy to protect the skin.

Before beginning a light therapy regimen, always consult your doctor. Lights should only be used for about half an hour at a time about 2 feet from your face. Ideally, eyes should be open but never looking directly into the light. This kind of treatment is usually recommended to begin your day within an hour of waking up.

A light box does not require a prescription, but some medications can also help with SAD. Many people benefit from antidepressants like Wellbutrin to stabilize during seasonal affective disorder. For the best results, medication should be started before symptoms typically begin every year. Like all prescriptions, you may need to try a few different medications before you find one that works well with minimal side effects. Before starting any new regiment, always consult and follow the recommendation of your health care professional.

Not all seasonal affective disorder treatments need to be expensive! While they may not treat all the symptoms, patients have benefited from relaxation techniques such as yoga, medication, tai chi, and art therapy. Keeping a routine is also incredibly important to keep SAD symptoms at bay.

One of the best ways to cope with seasonal affective disorder is through talk therapy or psychotherapy. Having a sounding board for your seasonal symptoms as well as having someone to track your regular symptoms and remind you why you are feeling more depressed in winter is critical. If you feel down for days at a time, a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or registered nurse can help.

Contact Us Today

Mental health professionals are often well-versed in the struggles of seasonal affective disorder. Whether you struggle from anxiety and depression year round or just during specific seasons, therapy can help decrease some symptoms and get you back to your daily life.

If you or a loved one are experiencing seasonal affective disorder, no matter the season, we are here to help. Contact us to set up an appointment at any of our five locations or via telehealth.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.