Warning signs and coping methods for seasonal affective disorder

In “The Emotional Calendar,” written by Harvard psychiatrist, John Sharp, the author relates that autumn can mark the end of a relaxed summer, mourned by many people. Others of us welcome the fall season that can mean the return to a routine of order. It is, however, a certainty that summer’s conclusion brings cooler nights and darker mornings, which are accompanied by our changes in routines, expectations, schedules, and even relationships. While a multitude of us consider spring to bring a time of new beginnings, still others find that our approaching season can become a preparation for winter and its upcoming holidays.

Everyone would agree that, with the seasons’ light and temperature reductions, we are all profoundly affected. According to goodtherapy.org in their publication “Does Your Mood Change with the Seasons?, “Many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a depression related to this change. For most, this begins in the fall and continues through the winter months.”

The therapy site tells us to “consider the physical, emotional, and relational ways you may be affected by this transition.” SAD is indeed characterized by these depression behaviors: moodiness, difficulty sleeping, low energy, and a low interest in relationships and their accompanying activities.

Goodtherapy.org provides us with self-asking questions to determine if we are suffering/or not suffering from what is commonly referred to as “the winter blues.”

1. Is it difficult for us to get out of bed/ are we sleeping more?

2. Are we having difficulty in motivating ourselves to exercise?

3. Are we less patient and easily annoyed by others?

4. On the other hand, do we feel more energized and productive?

5. Have your personal relationships shown a change in recent weeks?

6. Are you now more actively involved in your relationships?

Whether you are or are not affected by the change of summer flowing into autumn, our therapy site provides us with three key points that will help all of us manage any seasonal changes:

1. Exercise, exercise, exercise. You must surely know by now that exercise on a regular basis has far-reaching and extremely positive effects on one’s emotional, mental, and physical health.

2. Get more light. Sunlight’s vitamin D adds an emotional and energy boost gained after only a few minutes spent in the sun.

3. Talk it out. Seek professional help if you or someone close to you appears to be in the throes of SAD. As in all transitional challenges, help can be received by sharing your inner thoughts and experiences with a therapist, family member, or friend.

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