You’re moody, feeling down, hopeless, tired all the time, you've lost your ability to enjoy even the simplest of life’s pleasures…if you’re fresh out of a bad breakup or divorce, or your noticing that the holidays are not creating feelings of comfort and joy, you’re not alone.
These are common symptoms of grief after the loss of a relationship. However, what you may not realize, is that these are also identical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as S.A.D.
“Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody (1)."
The end of relationship can be difficult no matter the time of year, however for many people, it’s doubly worse when it occurs alongside a change in season or around the holidays.
4 to 6 percent of U.S. residents suffer from SAD and up to 20 percent may have a mild form of it that starts in the fall or early winter (2).
Recognizing the symptoms of SAD and proactively taking immediate action will help to minimize its effects, and is extremely important.
This can be difficult, because you are not going to feel like doing anything! Not ignoring your symptoms is even more important when coupled with a major life change, such as divorce and heartbreak.
Here are some impactful yet simple ways you can reduce S.A.D.'s impact right now.
These tips can also be great if you experiencing some holiday blues, too.
Tips for Dealing with S.A.D. and feeling down:
Move Your Body: We all know that exercise is good for the body but did you know that it’s equally good for your brain? Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication (5). It relieves tension, boosts your energy, can help you sleep better at night and increases self-esteem. If you don’t already have an activity you like to do, now is the perfect time to try something new. And it exposes you to sunlight. Yahoo!
Vitamin D: Research seems to show a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and symptoms of depression. However, researchers don’t know whether taking a vitamin D supplement, or getting more vitamin D by exposing the skin to the sun, will help to prevent or ease the symptoms of depression in some people. Generally, a little bit of sun exposure is linked to a better mood and there are many anecdotal reports of increased energy and overall better mood after taking Vitamin D supplements (4). It may not be guaranteed to help you but it’s also unlikely to cause you harm. As always, it’s best to discuss with your doctor before beginning any supplement program at home.
Healthy Diet: While there isn’t any one specific diet plan proved to fight off feelings of depression, eating healthy can help lessen symptoms and improve your overall health. Learn more about diet and depression here.
“Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.”
Light therapy: During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms (3). There are many products available (a quick search of “Light therapy” or “light therapy lamp” will deliver hundreds of results) that you can use at home, no matter your budget.
Laugh: Laughter is the best medicine and my favorite remedy! We’ve all heard it before but it really applies in this case! “Laughter causes the body to release into the bloodstream high concentrations of different hormones and neuropeptides related to feelings of happiness, bonding, tolerance, generosity, compassion and unconditional love (6).” Watch a funny movie, grab a friend and head to an improv night or comedy show or simply find a mirror and make silly faces at yourself…strange as it may sound, it just might work!
Connect With Others: Surround yourself with people who cause you to feel supported and cared for. A simple hug from someone can cause us to feel better in just a brief moment.
“When you love and laugh abundantly, you live a beautiful life.”
The Alchemy of Healing
And remember, don’t expect to go from feeling depressed to overjoyed.
You are looking to feel better!
You will experience the feelings of overjoyed one step at a time as you continue to take proactive steps toward your wellbeing.
It just takes a little bit of better, to make a huge difference.
If you find yourself really struggling and unable to pull yourself out of “the hole,” please, reach out for help, and know that you are NOT alone.
If your thoughts turn to ending your own life, help IS available! The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call anytime, toll free: 1-800-273-8255.
Lastly, I remind you that…
You are a spectacular human being who has unique gifts and talents as well as life experiences that are valuable to the rest of us.
We all need each other; we all need YOU!
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