For the millions of people around the world who suffer from S.A.D. it can be very difficult to get excited about the holiday seasons that are coming up soon. Those happy thoughts that relate to Christmas, Thanksgiving & Halloween suddenly creep to the back of the mind instead of being something to look forward to.
The good feelings that are usually associated with gift-giving, festive meals with the family and trick-or-treating are overrun with the fear of going back into a cyclical depressive state brought on by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
This debilitating mental state is made characteristic by unexplainable sadness, overeating do to the feelings of depression and this strong desire to just sleep through everything and miss out on life’s most precious moments. If you are one of the 500,000+ Americans who suffer from S.A.D., or are one of the millions who struggle with it around the world, then this article is for you.
Here Are 7 Very Good Ways To Keep Seasonal Depression At Bay…
When used in combination with one-another you have a better chance of staying happy during this difficult time of the year.
1. Consume Foods That Are Mood Lifting
You need to be very mindful of what you eat. Although things like fast food are a convenience they do nothing for our moods. It’s important to keep a diet going of foods that are rich in essential minerals and vitamins. In particular, foods that aid in Serotonin production, Magnesium, Folic Acid, D vitamin and B vitamins will give you the most help.
Good Anti-Depression Foods Include
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green tea
- Low fat cheeses and milk
These foods are a great source of either protein, healthy fats, potassium, trytophan and vitamins. Avoid a diet that may deplete these important nutrients.
2. Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine
Many of us can’t imagine living without a few “adult beverages” in the evening hours or having a few cups of coffee throughout the day, but consider the fact that both caffeine and alcohol (which is a stimulant) could be your major problem alone.
The issue with drinking alcohol throughout a bout of depression is that it amplifies the sadness and darker feelings. If you’re trying to take action and return to a more positive state, caffeine and alcohol consumption can work against your best efforts.
At least a 3rd of those with depression resort to alcohol as a form of self-medication and teens who struggle with serious depression for a long period of time are more likely to start drinking.
But most critically is the fact that alcohol is in itself a depressant. It can also impair your judgement and cause you to make hasty decisions that could further escalate your depressive state.
3. Get Active & Force Yourself To Be On Your Feet
It’s true that when you’re feeling depressed it’s very hard to have the motivation to get up and do things, but the truth is that the more you lie dormant the greater your depressive state can become.
The main issue for most people with Seasonal Affective Disorder is staying fit and active when it’s really cold out or you’re up to your neck in snow.
Here are some methods that you can take advantage of that are both creative as well as rewarding to the body and mind..
- If there’s snow on the ground, try to be a kid again. Build a snowman, fort or have a snowball fight with your kids and loved ones.
- Join your local YMCA. This way you can use the indoor track for power walking or sign up for a very affordable class through the Y.
- Pop a fitness DVD in your player and start working out with it
- Use a fitness video game. These can be a lot of fun and put you through the paces. Plus some of them feature a virtual coach who can be quite motivating.
- Take a ballroom dance, martial arts, yoga, Zumba or swim class.
4. Make Yourself Socialize More
I know what you might be thinking. “I’m depressed”, “I don’t like people” or “I’m an introvert” and I hear ya! Truth be told you can be in a social setting without having to socialize or stress yourself out.
It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself from friends, family or even strangers, which is something that people with SAD tend to do. Here’s what to do..
- Get a library card and make weekly trips to the library. Just sit and read there or get a routine going of checking out and renewing items.
- Develop a ritual where you go to the coffee shop just to people watch. An OK dose of coffee won’t hurt you and you can relax in the ambiance of the shop.
- Go window shopping in the mall. The mall can be a tiring place for many people, but 30 – 60 minutes walking around the mall can do wonders; mainly because of the stimulation and the abundance of lighting.
- Start your holiday gift shopping early and refrain from doing all of it on the internet. Make a list of people to buy for and research online, but make sure to use going to physical store addresses to do your shopping as an excuse to get out and about.
5. Give Back To Others
You know the old advice that somewhere around the world right now there is a person who has it worse than you. Boy is that ever true and if you seek out ways to volunteer and help out it can be great therapy.
In fact, not only can helping those in need distract you from your depression it can lift your emotional vibrational state and elevate your mood. Here are some ways that you can make life about others and NOT your depression..
- Get involved in a food drive
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Seek part-time work at a Goodwill
- Spend time with the elderly
- Assist at an animal shelter and help with general care of pets
- Sign up to help out at the local library
- Get involved with habitat for humanity
- Ask about ways to assist at museums
- Become an usher for your local theater
Volunteering can help with your depression in several ways…
- It gets you out of the house and away from your “zone of depression”
- You can actually meet fantastic people networking in this way, and may find that some of them are volunteering for similar reasons
- Helping others raises your feel good hormone levels and makes you feel better about yourself, which if you are depressed is exactly what you need right now.
To learn more ways about how you can help out in your community, there is a fantastic website called Volunteer Match which can hook you up with great places to volunteer.
6. Take Advantage Of Light Therapy
One of the most affective ways to treat SAD is to use a light therapy box. SAD lamps, or SAD lights as they are called put out light that imitates natural sunlight. The idea is to sit within a foot or so of this source of light for 15 – 60 minutes depending on the intensity.
Intensities vary depending on the make, brand and model, but usually the output is measured in LUX, which is a light measurement. The ranges are usually 2,500 – 10,000, and many models have different settings.
Even doctors have been prescribing these devices for several years now and many patients report great results. The key is to start early in the season and continue your therapy. You’re not supposed to look directly at the light, but being within it’s glow will allow the source to enter in through the pupils and benefit brain waves.
It’s also important that you get on a routine and stay vigilant to it. Some people may report that using light therapy at night stimulates their brain too much, making it difficult for them to sleep. The best time may be in the morning.
Medical experts aren’t completely sure why light therapy works, but it may have something to do with low vitamin D levels and the fact that the sun’s light has many healthy benefits for our mood.
7. Supplements That May Help With Depression
The following supplements are inconclusive in their efficacy during key, clinical research studies, but they are worth giving some thought and everyone is a little bit different. You should however consult your doctor first before trying any of these to make sure that there will not be any complications with any medications that you might already be taking and to make sure that any conditions you might already have will not be affected.
Gamma -Aminobutyric acid or GABA for short is a chemical that is naturally made in the brain. However you can also take it in pill form to relieve stress and boost mood. It works by blocking certain neurotransmitters and could potentially help in quieting the mind.
SAMe is produced by the body using a combination of an amino acid called methionine and an energy molecule known as adenosine triphosphate. It has been studied widely for it’s possible help in treating depression and osteoporosis, but evidence and research are not up to speed as they should be.
When compared to the benefits of anti-depressants, SAMe has not received the attention needed. To determine whether or not an anti-depressant may be affective in treating depression, 4 – 6 weeks are required for conclusion, where as SAMe has only received 3 weeks when comparing it to antidepressant medications.
L-Tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is commonly known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter. When taking L-Tyrosine on an empty stomach it can work much faster than antidepressant medication, but you should beware. It can increase blood pressure for people who deal with hypertension and may cause anxiety.
But for others it has the potential to combat depression and have a calming effect.