Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a recognised condition and can therefore be found in the DSM-V, the most widely used diagnostic manual for psychologists and psychiatrists. There are several criteria that must be met before someone actually suffers from a seasonal affective disorder. Various symptoms are described, for example, a persistent feeling of emptiness or distress, problems with sleep, problems with appetite, concentration problems, and a lack of energy. These symptoms must be related to a specific season, mostly autumn or winter, in order to be seen as seasonal affective disorder.
The cause of SAD is not yet known. It seems that there are several aspects that correlate to seasonal depression. Genetic predisposition, chemicals in the brain and ions in the air are some aspects that might be possible causes. However, researchers agree that people suffering from seasonal depression are particularly sensitive to light, or to the lack of light. The reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood).
Do you suffer from such seasonal complaints? Then there are a number of things you could try to combat SAD.
It is important to have some structure in your daily life. Fixed times are important because it provides guidance and you can work towards it. Go to bed at a fixed time, get up at a fixed time and take your meals at a fixed time.
Your body produces endorphins while exercising, which makes you feel better immediately.
So run, cycle or walk a few times a week and do it outside! The best time to go outside is in the morning. At this time of the day there is relatively more blue light, which inhibits the production of melatonin. This will make you feel less tired and drowsy during the day.
Stay in touch with your family and friends, this way you prevent yourself from becoming isolated and thereby becoming even gloomier. It is important meet with people where you can really be yourself!
Pay attention to your thoughts
Start paying attention to the way you think. When you notice yourself replaying events in your mind over and over or worrying about things you can’t control, acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive. And don’t forget: thoughts are just thoughts. You are not your thoughts