because winter shouldn't have to suck
THE ACRONYM SAYS IT ALL—SAD SOUNDS LIKE JUST ABOUT THE LAST THING ANYONE WANTS TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH. ACCORDING TO THE MAYO CLINIC, SAD—SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER—IS A MEDICALLY RECOGNIZED FORM OF DEPRESSION THAT DIRECTLY RELATES TO SEASONAL CHANGES. AND WHILE WE ALL GET SLUGGISH COME MID-JANUARY, SAD IS MUCH MORE THAN CABIN FEVER OR WINTER BLUES. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN FIGHT BACK TO REGAIN YOUR SPIRITS WITH THESE NATURAL REMEDIES.
Who's Most at Risk
According to the US National Institute of Health, about 10-20% of depression cases are related to the seasons. It makes sense that more SAD sufferers live in New Hampshire (9.7%) than Florida (1.4%). But did you know that women are almost twice as likely to experience SAD? And SAD doesn’t limit itself to depression—disorders like bulimia and anxiety have been known to flare up according to the seasons.
What are the Symptoms?
Winter brings out the best and worst in everyone, and if there’s any time of year where staying in bed and watching Netflix for hours is acceptable, it’s this one. But if you find yourself feeling withdrawn, overly irritable, less social, and less willing to go out and do things you usually find fun, it might not be just because you’re a homebody. If you’re still craving holiday cookies in January, it could be a symptom of SAD. Luckily, these symptoms won’t last as the days start to grow longer, as SAD is caused by reduced sunlight messing with your body’s internal clock. But why wait?
How You Can Fight Back
Google “Seasonal affective disorder,” and the first thing just about every medical site swears by is light box therapy. While you can visit a doctor for help with SAD treatment, it’s not necessary, as you can purchase your very own personal Natural Light Energy Lamp starting at $40 from Amazon. Here’s how to use the cute-ly named HappyLight: much like birth control, you must use it around the same time everyday. It only takes about 10-15 minutes of your time, and you should see results in about two weeks. Remember that feeling from summer/vacation-time, after you’ve (healthily, while wearing an SPF) soaked up some much-needed sunshine? That’s kind of how you’ll feel after light therapy. It’s energizing, and guaranteed to put you in a better mood.
When All Else Fails, Check Your Diet and Exercise
Sad fact of life: no matter how much you’re into whatever your true crime docudrama du jour is, sitting at home all day does nothing to help your mood. Regular exercise has been known to treat SAD, but they key word here is regular. This doesn’t mean you need to run 10 miles a day. Maybe start using the stairs instead of the elevator at work, or order takeout and walk to your local lunchtime haunt, rather than just pressing the delivery button again.