If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, then that first
cool hint of air, untinged with 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.
Bright Lights, Big Relief – Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
The Sunbox Company – Light therapy products