seasonal affective disorder

Can You Get Seasonal Affective Disorder in SoCal?

If you find yourself always feeling lethargic, sad or depressed during specific times of the year, you could have a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD occurs with a change in the seasons. Many people who have this mental health challenge experience symptoms in the fall and winter, though others struggle in the spring and summer. Read on to learn more about SAD and healthy ways you can cope with this condition if you have it. 

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It’s natural to go through emotional highs and lows. However, if you consistently experience a noticeable dip in your energy and enthusiasm after a change in the seasons, you might have SAD. 

Symptoms of this disorder can include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish, anxious or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Fall and Winter

Mental health experts believe that people who struggle with SAD in the fall and winter are primarily affected by the shorter days these seasons bring. They suggest that less sunlight affects circadian rhythms and serotonin production, thus causing this form of depression.

Though Southern California residents enjoy some of the nation’s sunniest year-round weather and consistently balmy temperatures, it’s still possible for people in SoCal to develop SAD. The danger is that Californians may be less likely to make the connection between their depressed mood and the changing seasons – and therefore may not seek help.

Healthy Ways to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

If SAD is making you feel tired and unmotivated, try these all-natural strategies to help you recover your equilibrium.

1. Try Light Therapy

Inexpensive at-home light therapy lamps shine a bright light that mimics sunshine. If SAD is troubling you, make a daily appointment to sit in front of this lamp for about half an hour, usually right after you get up. Light therapy will help regulate your circadian rhythms and suppress your brain’s release of melatonin, helping you feel more awake and alert.

2. Seek Counseling

If you’re having trouble with seasonal depression, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, see a doctor. A therapist can teach you constructive coping techniques if you receive a diagnosis of SAD. 

3. Use Aromatherapy

You may already be incorporating aromatherapy into your self-care routine. Essential oils can affect the part of your brain that regulates your mood and your body clock. For example, eucalyptus oil can revive you if you’re fatigued and having trouble concentrating. Use soothing oils like chamomile to help you relax before bedtime. 

4. Work Out

Exercise is essential for your physical and mental well-being. It also burns calories to prevent the unwanted weight gain that can accompany seasonal depression. Outdoor exercise is ideal because it helps you get natural sunlight, but if it’s raining or dark and you don’t feel safe working out outside, take your workout inside next to a window.

Where to Get Help for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Don’t let seasonal depression make your life feel like an uphill battle. At Serene Behavioral Health, our professional counselors are here to help treat your mood disorder and let you realize your full potential. Contact us anytime when you’re ready to learn more.

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