As the leaves turn, and the chill of winter starts to taint the air, millions nationwide are feeling the familiar anxiety of dealing with another season of mental health struggles.
Five percent of US adults suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which typically lasts for five months—or 40%—of the year. During this period, shorter days, colder temperatures, and lack of sunlight drive sustained feelings of sadness, low energy, and disrupted sleeping and eating patterns.
This year, the experience promises to be harder than normal, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a destructive impact on people’s mental health. Those who already struggle with depression are at the highest risk, so it is as important as ever to have strategies in place to keep the winter blues at bay.
Five Strategies for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder
The symptoms of seasonal depression include unshakable sadness, changes in eating patterns, excessive sleep, reduced energy, unfocused guilt, and suicidal ideation, among other debilitating sensations. Luckily, there is lots you can do to manage—and even avoid—these experiences, and the following five strategies all have proven records of success:
1. Stay active (both physically and socially)
Physical activity and social contact have both demonstrated a positive impact on mood. As the temperature dips, it is important to brainstorm ways you can keep your mind and body moving. If you are the exercise type, Nordic walking with friends, or shinny hockey at the local rink might be good options. If you shiver at just the thought of breaking a sweat in sub-zero temperatures, a weekly board game night or book club are effective alternatives (though not a replacement to getting outside at least once each day).
2. Build light into your life
Seasonal affective disorder is driven, in part, by changes in daily light patterns that disrupt your circadian rhythm. Phototherapy boxes that mimic sunshine by emitting bright light at different wavelengths can help your body stay on track. Likewise, dawn-simulator alarm clocks gently wake you via gradual brightening that mimics the natural start of a new day.
3. Maintain a routine
Difficulty completing daily tasks is a common symptom of seasonal depression (and depression in general). Writing out a routine that you aim to follow throughout the winter season can help you overcome this challenge and, in doing so, lift your sense of isolation and idleness.
4. Consider taking antidepressants
If in spite of practicing the strategies listed above you see no improvement in your mental health, you might consider speaking to your family physician about trying antidepressant medications.
5. Seek out alternative therapies
Not all individuals respond to traditional treatments for depression. If after trying two different antidepressant medications you see no improvement in your well-being, you might be among the many who suffer from treatment resistant depression (TRD). Decades worth of research have shown ketamine therapy to provide fast, sustained relief from TRD when nothing else has helped. If you notice that SAD symptoms are growing worse or compounding existing mental health struggles, it may be time to look to alternative treatments that allow you to regain your sense of self and well-being.
To learn more about how ketamine therapy may provide relief from seasonal depression or any other treatment resistant strains, do not hesitate to contact us at Vitalitas Denver—a mental health treatment clinic specializing in ketamine infusion therapy.
Contact Vitalitas Denver Ketamine Infusion Center