Seasonal Pattern Depression

Everyone feels disconnected at some point, but during the holidays those feelings can and unfortunately do, heighten for millions of people.

If you or someone you know, seems to constantly get depressed during the Fall and Winter, you may want to continue reading…

On our wellness journey, it’s important to position ourselves accordingly. But first, what exactly is seasonal depression?

According to NAMI, “Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD) is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression in late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal mood the rest of the year.”

Over 3 million people are treated annually for this type of depression. Symptoms include apathy, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal.

I was first exposed to seasonal depression last year when a friend vanished off social media around this time. It took them to the end of December to respond with a “thumbs up” emoji. Then around February they popped back up on Facebook and explained the matter. It was the first time I learned about serotonin deficiency.

Being proactive about our health is a key ingredient to “wellness.” If the above diagnosis and symptoms seem to resonate, there is hope. Because this disorder has a specific pattern, there are ways to mitigate its arrival. Some people may only need treatment during the time of year when it’s necessary; others may need treatment all year round.

For those who may want to engage in a few “natural depression treatments,” here are a few that are recommended, in general—then a specific treatment to assist with serotonin management:

1.    Avoid alcohol and other drugs. Self-medicating is never suggested to combat depression. Misusing substances over a long period of time could ultimately negatively affect brain chemistry and/or lead to mental health problems.   

2.    Start a routine. Depression of any kind zaps our energy and dismantles the daily structure of life. Keeping a routine automatically makes us “get up and get to it.”

3.    Exercise. Not only do endorphins make us feel good when we exercise, science proves doing so regularly naturally rewires the brain to work more efficiently.

4.  Address the negativity. While medication and therapy do help with depression, managing our thoughts cannot be overstated. The most difficult part of therapy for many people is putting a halt to the thoughts that no longer serve us. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (CBT), will greatly assist with this.

5.    Get a Light box.  Light therapy boxes address serotonin deficiency. This therapy is specific for seasonal pattern depression. For more information, here’s an excellent article from Mayo Clinic.

No one should ever feel disconnected, especially during this time of year. Our wellness journey entails practicing healthy habits on a daily basis. But first we must become aware of what may be ailing us. I hope this helped. Be well. 

Jeff Vickers is an author and advocate for empowerment in Mental Health and Recovery. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Sara and their husky Bello. Check out his blog here:

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