If you find yourself feeling a little less jolly the minute the temperature dips below 30 degrees, you’re not alone. But how do you know if you have seasonal depression or if you merely despise the wintertime?
Many people feel less energetic as the days grow shorter. This malaise helped early humans survive by slowing down their metabolism when food was scarce. Today, though, seasonal depression can adversely affect people’s health in numerous ways.
How do you know if you have seasonal depression? Seeking help from a therapist is always the best way to go, but you can start by asking yourself a few questions.
1. Are You More Fatigued?
It’s typical to feel like going to bed by 9 p.m. if it gets dark at 4:30. However, if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, you could have seasonal depression.
This disorder causes debilitating fatigue. Walking to the kitchen to get a snack can feel like running a marathon. If you come home from work every day and collapse on the couch, it might be time to call the doctor.
2. Do You Struggle to Focus?
Depression is the top cause of disability in the U.S. among individuals between 15 and 44 years old. Given that this demographic makes up a large percentage of the workforce, depression really impacts workplaces during the winter due to how seasonal depression can affect the productivity levels of sufferers. If severe, you might not be able to work. When you make it to the office, you might do little more than push paper around.
Talk to your supervisor if you need to take time off or your performance isn’t on track. It’s better to address problems head-on than to wait for them to spiral.
3. Do You Sleep All the Time Or Not Enough?
Some people with depression sleep all the time. Others find Zzzs elusive, even though they lack energy for daily activities. Depression can keep you tossing and turning at night, especially when it causes problems on the employment front.
4. Has Your Weight Fluctuated?
If your sleep is affected by depression, you might crave junk food more often. Some people try to self-medicate with food because eating prompts the brain to release several neurotransmitters. Others find their appetites disappear under the heavy weight of depression.
5. Do You Experience Aches And Pains?
Depression can make you hurt physically and mentally. People with undiagnosed depression sometimes develop stomach pains or backaches. And people who experience physical effects from depression are actually less likely to continue their dose of prescribed medications.
6. Do You Withdraw From Social Activities?
For many, the holidays are a time to visit family. Yet if you can’t muster the energy to attend a single gathering, you might have seasonal depression.
If you’re typically introverted, this symptom might be hard to notice. However, if you find yourself declining every happy hour invitation, ask yourself why. Do you dislike your colleagues, or is it something more?
7. Do You Feel Sad And Empty?
The biggest clue that you have seasonal depression is a persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness. If you no longer find enjoyment in daily life, contact your doctor without delay. A combination of therapy and medications, along with lifestyle changes, can help.
If you feel like you might harm yourself, contact the National Suicide Hotline for support. You can talk to a professional and learn about valuable resources.
Treating Seasonal Depression
If you have seasonal depression, you have several options to try to improve the way you feel, including:
Eat a healthy diet: Try to avoid overeating or undereating as much as possible. Eating when you’re not hungry leads to weight gain which can increase your risk of disease, and not eating enough also leads to many adverse health side effects. Eating foods high in magnesium may improve your mood.
Get adequate sleep: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If sleep proves elusive, make some chamomile tea. Engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading a book.
Exercise: Working out releases endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals in the body. It also helps promote restful sleep.
Buy a lamp: You can find lamps that imitate the sun’s rays online and in stores. Use this light during the day to improve your mood naturally.
Try medication: Many medications alleviate seasonal depression. Your doctor can try to help you find the right prescription.
Try talk therapy: Talk therapy can help you reframe negative thoughts and develop actionable goals.
You don’t have to live with seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression can adversely impact your overall quality of life. However, you don’t have to resign yourself to feeling terrible every year when winter rolls around. Once you recognize the signs, do what you can to live a healthy lifestyle and seek any help needed to find relief!