Lightning Up The Blues: How To Deal With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depression, as a chemical disorder in the brain, knows no age, gender, or time – but it might get worse or better, depending on the season. For those with seasonal affective disorder – called SAD for short – added onto existing depression, that constant depression gets even worse as winter comes, staying that way until the opening overtures of spring. But how do you deal with a condition determined by forces beyond your influence? If you're looking for tips for facing SAD and coming out on top, then here's what you need to know.

Let the Light In

You won't have much luck letting light in from the outside, as there's little (if any) sunshine in winter. But letting light into your life can help to mitigate the effects of SAD and bring you back to your previous equilibrium. Light therapy – where you're exposed to a light blasting 10,000 lux for about a half an hour in the mornings – has been found to be effective in dealing with SAD, as it replaces the light that normally hits you around the clock the rest of the year. Following this with light exercise in the morning, which counteracts depression's ability to make you feel sluggish, can be a helpful cocktail for dealing with your SAD.

Watch What You Eat

SAD can make you sluggish, overtired (you may need extra sleep – say, 12 hours of sleep – to feel the same as you do on 7-8 hours during spring, summer, and fall), and give you a major craving for carbs. Unfortunately, combining carbs with sluggish habits is an opportunity for weight gain, which can increase depression. To stay out of this trap, balance your carb cravings with good, vegetable- and protein-filled meals to keep your body running at 100%, so you can focus on getting your mind back up to par.

Positive Thinking

While being cheerful in and of itself is not a cure for depression, as anyone who has suffered from it can say, positive thinking can work wonders when incorporated within a depression-halting treatment plan. As many as 9 percent of people within the United States alone suffer from seasonal affective disorder – and knowing you're not alone in dealing with your problems can go a long way to helping you cope. Ensure that, whenever you start to trap yourself with negative self-talk, that you have a friend, lover, or relative you can turn to. Even though they may not be trained, they can always listen and comfort you, which can be the most helpful thing of all. Visit for more information.