Guest Post by Robyn Flint
Depression knows no boundaries. It can occur in anyone due to a number of precipitating factors like predisposition, a life-changing diagnosis or illness, the loss of a loved one, or seasonality.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is depression brought on by the colder days and longer nights typically associated with late fall and early winter. SAD affects women more often than men, but it certainly doesn’t discriminate.
Men typically don’t seek treatment for mental health issues as often as women. Men may feel a sense of shame in seeking treatment, but there is no shame in seeking help for depression. There are mental health services available for men who may be experiencing SAD or other mental health issues. If you are unclear about the symptoms of SAD, here are a few warning signs and suggestions for overcoming them:
If you find yourself losing interest or avoiding the things you once loved (e.g. outdoor recreational activites), this may be a tell-tale sign of SAD or other forms of depression. If you find yourself unable to pull out of the slump, it may be time to seek professional help.
To avoid losing interest in normal activities, make a conscious effort to stay active during the winter. Instead of taking a run outside, join a gym during the colder months. Go with friends and make it a regularly scheduled activity. Consider a vacation to help your mental health. Spend time doing the things you love even if you have to tweak the specifics to accommodate the colder weather.
For example, you may not be able to play football with friends, but you can certainly watch it with them. Make a plan to watch one game together each week at a set time and day, alternating the place you watch. This is a great way to stay active and enjoy the things and people you love.
If you have experienced changes in your sleep habits (sleeping all the time or having trouble sleeping), this may be a sign of SAD. By itself, this is a symptom of other potential health issues. But when it’s paired with other symptoms, it could be due to seasonal depression.
A great suggestion for combatting a sleep issue is to establish a nightly routine. If you stay active during the day instead of becoming a hermit, this will help diminish your need to fill the time with sleep.
When boredom sets in, so do the urges to sleep. Keep yourself from getting bored. Schedule a bedtime and turn it into a habit. At least one hour before your bedtime, start a routine to prepare your body for sleep.
Take a warm shower and follow it up with a caffeine-free beverage and a good book. Turn off the TV as some shows may evoke feelings that make it difficult to sleep and the light is scientifically proven to keep you awake. Instead, listen to soothing music, meditate, read, or do another activity that helps you wind down. No working before bed, you workaholics!
Boredom in the winter wreaks havoc on our bodies. When we get bored, we eat, we watch TV, we snack, and we have nothing to do outside, so we bake. You may not be the chef in your house, but chances are you are one of many taste testers. It’s really a double-edged sword. We eat because we are bored, and we are bored because there is nothing to do, except eat.
Put the beer and chips away. Get off the couch and do some crunches. This goes back up to the first point about staying active. If that fails, then take an interest in healthy cooking. Use the long nights to learn how to become a gourmet chef. The point is to do something healthy instead of vegging out and eating junk all evening. And gentlemen, if you didn’t know, being able to cook is a very attractive quality in a man.
Here are additional signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder:
There is relief available for Seasonal Affective Disorder and singing the winter blues. Recognize these changes and be proactive with your mental health. If you are experiencing these symptoms, get some professional help by consulting your physician or mental health provider.
Robyn Flint writes for CompareLifeInsurance.com and has an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Her experience in the field of mental health includes counseling children and families through outpatient counseling, program management, clinical supervision, and therapeutic foster care. Robyn is also a freelance writer and published author.
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