It is that time of year again; the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are beginning to drop. For people with Seasonal Depressive Disorder (SAD), this time of year is often the beginning of a long, emotionally draining series of months. Decreased daylight can mean an increase in SAD symptoms, including fatigue, sadness, and loss of interest in activities.
Some people who are particularly vulnerable to seasonal depression opt to move to an area of the world in which the seasonal changes are not as severe. While the geographical solution does not work for many types of depression and other emotional health challenges, it can work wonders for SAD.
If moving to a new location is not an option for you, there are other strategies you can try to decrease depressive responses during the long autumn equinox and winter solstice seasons.
Our counseling and neurofeedback center recommends a few tips for coping with SAD:
At the nCenter Bozeman, we offer targeted neurofeedback that can address depression, including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). After reviewing a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (qEEG), our neurofeedback practitioners can choose a protocol using Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequencies (pEMF) and/or Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) or Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS) to balance your brain so that it’s not as prone toward the symptoms of SAD.
- Nutritional Counseling
We have a functional medicine nutritionist at the nCenter who can work with you on nutritional counseling to alleviate SAD symptoms. Non-medical remedies such as vitamins D and B and magnesium are just a few supplements that can help you turn that corner in winter months. Our nutritionist will ask you about medications you are taking so that she can note contraindications when adding supplements.
When we exercise, our endorphins spike, serotonin levels increase, and our minds and bodies respond favorably. Getting outside for a walk or going for a bike ride can do wonders for seasonal depression. Skiing and building snowmen are additional cold-weather activities that may be fun and provide symptom relief. There’s nothing like moving and sunshine to help with SAD symptoms.
- Light Therapy
Using a lightbox that emits 10,000 lux can help reduce depressive symptoms, even in the dark days of winter. A lightbox mimics outdoor light, and it’s thought that this type of light may cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood, reducing fatigue, sadness, and other SAD symptoms. Your lightbox should produce as little UV light as possible. Then use it within the first hour of waking each morning for 20 to 30 minutes. Follow the lightbox instructions from the manufacturer, but typically place the lightbox 16 to 24 inches from your face and keep your eyes open but don’t look directly at the light.
At the nCenter, our therapists use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, grief therapy and Internal Family Systems along with Emotion Focused Therapy for couples to reduce depression and facilitate a better mood. Our counseling in Montana understands just having someone to talk with can change your mood and help you focus on your strengths, your purpose in life and your personal goals.
Just remember that you don’t have to navigate life alone. Whether it is tea with a good friend or a walk in the sun with your favorite pet, your mood can shift from sad to happy with the simplest of connections. We are meant to be together and perhaps that is most true when life is challenging and the days long.