As winters arrive, it is pretty natural to feel lazy and wanting to cozy up most of the time. But some of us have it worse than others. As soon as winter arrives our mental health drastically declines and hits an all time low. I didn’t understand why that happened and winters were a dread for me. Eventually after quite some research I found that I had seasonal depression, or in technical terms, seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Yes, it contracts to SAD. Imagine someone saying, ‘I have sad.’ Most of us don’t even know this exists, and they let seasonal depression pass by year after year. So today let’s talk about a very different sort of mental health, i.e. seasonal depression or winter blues. And ways to overcome it.
So, what is seasonal depression?
There is a pattern to knowing about whether you have seasonal depression or not. It starts when the weather starts to get slightly cold, that is to say from fall and it lasts all of winter. Do you notice that pattern in you year by year? Does your energy level fall as soon as it starts to get cold? Do you feel moody or your emotions drop more and elevate less? That’s symptom number 1. It is very rare that these symptoms occur in spring or any other season. It gets worse as the season progresses, that much is a given.
Other symptoms include 4 or 5 out of 7 days a week you feel depressed or low, most of the day. Mind you, there’s a difference between feeling lazy and feeling depressed. Please try to understand and differentiate between the two. Moving on, you lose interest in things you love doing most, even trying to do basic everyday things like getting out of bed and taking a shower. You need a lot of motivation to drag yourself during the day to do those things. And if you’re unemployed or out of school, then doing those basic things becomes more of a problem. Mostly because there is very little motivation. Your energy is usually pretty low, and you feel useless and lazy because you’re unable to do anything. You barely talk to anyone, and its inexplicable as to why.
Other than that, your sleeping patterns change. Either you start sleeping too much or too little as per your normal routine. This is different for anyone with seasonal depression. People usually infer that people who sleep less are more likely to be depressed. That isn’t always the case. People sleep a lot more than usual too when they are depressed. Just like that, your ways of eating also change. You either lose your appetite or start eating way more than your body needs. More frequent cravings are sweets or carbs. You get tired easily of doing even the littlest of activities. The most dangerous symptom is that you feel hopeless or worthless and suicidal thoughts are more frequent. Basically, depression but during winters.
Why does seasonal depression occur?
According to my own sources (me), it occurs because you feel like a cold-blooded heartless reptile ready to hibernate for winters. Ok ok, jokes aside. The causes are vague but according to some sources seasonal depression occurs because of less exposure to sunlight. Here’s an article by cleaveland that explains this theory further.
When to see a doctor for seasonal depression?
You can see a doctor for seasonal affective disorder when you start relying on alcohol or drugs for overcoming the problem or have suicidal thoughts far more frequent and become a danger to yourself. Seasonal depression can be treated yourself, but if you feel like you can’t control it anymore, then I’d highly recommend seeing a doctor immediately. Mental disorder isn’t a joke or to be taken lightly.
How to overcome seasonal depression
Here are a few steps, tried and tested by trial and error, to overcome seasonal depression.
Know that you’re not alone
It is very natural to feel like you’re alone battling this problem. And that no one understands your feelings. That is not true. It took me a whole week to sit down and write this article because I couldn’t get myself out of bed. So, trust me when I say this, you’re not alone. And you never know who’s fighting this battle silently. Look around you and help those who are fighting seasonal depression.
Talk to those around you
I understand that it is very difficult to talk to people about this or to anyone at all with seasonal depression. You don’t want to talk to anyone, you’d rather be alone curled up in a ball in your bed watching something silly on youtube. But you need to talk to someone. Anyone. It’s better if it’s a close family or friend. They understand and most likely check up on you from time to time. But if you find it difficult to talk to people around you, the internet is your stage. There are apps such as 7cups, notOk, whatsup, talkspace, etc. There are even some pages on Reddit that help you through this. Just give it a go. It’ll be okay.
Start with little things
Getting out of bed can be the worst part of the day, mostly because you don’t want to do anything. Start with little things. Make your bed first thing in the morning. Make a cup of tea. Rearrange a small drawer in your room. Watch tv outside your room space. Start walking a little every day. Work a little on something that you’ve been wanting to do or have to do. Eventually you’ll find the motivation to finish it.
You don’t have to push yourself too hard. Understand that you need to take some days off. Try to make those around you understand that too. You don’t need to push yourself through social situations immensely or finish that task right now. Its okay to take a break. And if you feel like crying, cry. If you have to sleep, sleep. Restart yourself and recharge yourself when required, seasonal depression can suck the life out of you.
Know that it’ll be okay
Now that you’re aware of the problem, keep it in mind. Constant reminder that its seasonal and it’ll pass is very essential to the process. It helps to brush off the suicidal or depressive thoughts. Its just seasonal and it’ll pass. It’s going to be okay. You’re still you, and you’re not getting enough sunlight. And there will be days with less sunlight, and you’ll go to people for the warmth. You’ll be okay. It’ll all be alright.
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