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6 tip for coping with seasonal depression

By Justin Marsh, CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical

The weather in Arizona is finally cool and the holidays are behind us. While some of us may be excited about a fresh start, others may be experiencing a sense of loss or emptiness as we look back on the holidays and forward to the start off another year. Why do we feel this way when a new year means a clean slate? Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually creeps in during the fall and winter months. So, you are not alone—SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans. The exact cause isn’t known, but it’s believed that shorter days with fewer hours of sunlight may play a role.

If you’re struggling with SAD, you may experience loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, feelings of hopelessness, low energy levels, irritability, social withdrawal and a change in appetite and sleeping habits. Below are six tips to help combat seasonal affective disorder.

Supplement with vitamin D. During wintertime, the sun isn’t out as much and we tend to spend more time indoors, causing a deficiency in one of the most vital nutrients, vitamin D. Not only is vitamin D essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system, but it has also been shown to support mental health. Taking a vitamin D supplement daily can help boost your mood.

Get more light. One easy way to address the lack of sunlight is to simply open your windows and sit near them while you work or relax throughout the day. Even repainting a room in a dark color to a brighter one can help. Light therapy is another common treatment used to address SAD, in which you are exposed to a special bright light box that mimics the effects of sunshine.

Socialize. If you’re battling SAD, it is very common to want to isolate yourself, and the ongoing pandemic has made it even more difficult to connect with others. But interaction with your friends and family is one of the best ways to fight seasonal depression. Making plans to get together safely and staying in touch via calls, texts or Facetime will cheer you up and keep you engaged.

Maintain a routine. It can be very tempting to spend all day in bed when you’re depressed, but you’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you stick to a schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day to create a healthy sleep pattern. Set aside time to exercise; it can be as simple as a morning yoga routine or an evening walk. Moving your body will release feel-good endorphins so make it a habit to do so daily. Eat nourishing, well-balanced meals at regular intervals throughout the day to help you avoid overindulging late at night.

Focus on self-care. Go easy on yourself and know that this feeling won’t last forever. In the meantime, allow yourself time to relax. Limit your social media consumption and give yourself a break from the negative news headlines. Enjoy low effort, calming activities like journaling, reading or taking a bath instead.

Get professional help. If you have been experiencing the symptoms of SAD for more than a few weeks, and it’s interfering with your day-to-day life, see a doctor or psychologist to get help. Antidepressants and talk therapy are very effective treatments that can help you manage and overcome depression.

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, many of us may face seasonal affective disorder. Try practicing these tips to get back to appreciating life and spending time with your loved ones.

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