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Uh Oh…It’s Fall Again

 

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder,

then that first cool hint of air, untinged by the humidity

of summer, doesn’t make you feel all excited and happy

for the beginning of Fall.

Instead, it can make you dread the eventuality of

shorter days, more darkness than light, more desire to

hibernate and eat carbs than to communicate and live.

Whereas others become inspired by the changing colors

of the Fall foliage, the flavors and spices of seasonal

recipes, the anticipation of the holiday season just

around the corner, some begin to fear the relapse

of depression that comes with the time change or

with the experience of waking in the darkness.

There Is Something You Can Do!

If you have experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder,

or if your symptoms related to Major Depression or

Bipolar Disorder always seem to worsen in the Fall

or early winter, there is absolutely something you can

do that can make a difference in your experience.

I recommend that you do several things to head off

a relapse, or soften one that is in beginning stages.

1.  Get Moving!  Preferably Out There!

Begin a gentle exercise program if you are not

already doing daily exercise.

Even better is to join a gym or a class that meets

at a regular time, so you will also have social

interaction and a place to go, to get you out of

the house regularly.

Getting a daily dose of a free anti-depressant

is going to help.

2. Get A Med Check 3 Weeks Post Time-Change

Make an appointment NOW with your psychiatrist,

or whoever prescribes your psychotropic medications,

if you take any.

It can take up to a month to 6 weeks to get on a

psychiatrist’s schedule if you haven’t seen one

in over 3 months.

Ideally, you want to be seen about 3 weeks

after we “fall back” with the time change.

That is when I see depressive and amotivational

symptoms begin in my clients, and you don’t want

to be trying to get a med check appointment near

Thanksgiving and trying to adjust to new dosages

right during the holidays.

Am I right?!

3.  Let There Be Light!

The light banks for use with SAD can be effective,

so if you haven’t tried one, this could be the year

you do.

Even if you don’t use phototherapy, I highly

recommend making sure you have lights with full-

spectrum light bulbs on in your home or apartment

during the dark winter months…at least 3 lights in

a room on from 5 PM until about 8:30 or 9:00 PM,

then reduce it to just one light for sleep hygeine.

4.  Get Timers!

I also recommend you go to your local hardware store

and invest in some inexpensive timers to plug your

lamps into.

Set at least one or two to go on so that you always

arrive home from work or being out to a lit house…at

least the front room that welcomes you should be lit.

Use another timer to turn the lamp on beside your bed

30 minutes to 1 hour before your alarm clock is set to

go off, so that you do not wake up in a dark room.

These small adjustments may make a huge difference

in your mood…light communicates with our brains in

ways that affect mood, energy, sleep, and appetite.

5.  Eat More Protein and Veggies

The sluggishness that comes with SAD and depression

almost craves carbs and sugar instead of foods that can

give you better nutrition, fiber, and better blood sugar

control.

Make sure every day that you eat lean protein and

veggies of all different colors…whether you want

them or not.

A piece of dark chocolate a day is fine!

Take Good Care of Yourself

Fall can be a wonderful time, actually, to slow down

and come inside, sit down by a warm fire for awhile,

sip some fresh apple cider, and reflect on the end of

this year and the new one just around the corner.

Remember that this is the best time to take good care

of yourself, figure out what you need and get it for

yourself, rest, feed yourself well, and let the season’s

changes reveal something interesting to you.

 

Resources:

Bright Lights, Big Relief – Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Sunbox Company – Light therapy products

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