Initially, let me say that the following comments are not those of a medical professional, but are my opinion based on life experiences. Some of these experiences derive from living in varied parts of the globe and at different times.
As the topic suggests, seasonal is the key word. For additional references to a definition of Seasonal Affective Disorder consult the first letters of the words S.A.D., the last of which is disorder.
Throughout the disclosure of this discourse, a few flashbacks may dance before your eyes just in time to offer possible solutions to this rather tragic ailment.
Disorder or Depression or Both
Though not noted in the journals of psychiatry as a “real” disorder, S.A.D. is indeed quite real to those who suffer with it. When we were living in an area well-known for its dismal weather about nine or ten months out of the year, visitors rarely showed up unless they had genuine reason to be there.
Both these facts contributed heavily to residents, who were not there by choice, begging and resorting to all kinds of antics to leave and go back home for the duration of the spouse’s assignment. Not only was this homesickness, but a classic case of S.A.D. as well. Therefore, you are able to deduce that S.A.D. simply means a type of depression reflecting a person’s response to a lack of light or weather change.
Borrowing verbiage from a reliable source, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression occurring at the same time each year. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.
If I were to have S.A.D., it would not be in the most glorious time of year with some of the most vibrant, rich colors signally a welcome end to summer’s stifling heat. Of course, some parts of the world do not have suffocating heat, but with the highest usual heat is maybe 80, then 90 is definitely a life-crushing heat wave to endure.
One of my experiences centered on not being able to locate even a fan, since they were all sold out! So after that summer fewer cases of S.A.D. appeared even during the normally “blue winter” months that followed.
Clinical treatments for this type of depression include using a light therapy box, medication, or psychotherapy. However, for the people and me that dared ask me for advice on the subject, the ensuing treatments proved much more cost-effective and doable for longer period.
Taking a lead from the light therapy box, my L.T.B. consisted of making my environment sunnier and brighter; getting outside, even and especially on cold, cloudy days; exercising regularly. Other help comes from adequate amounts of Omega – 3 fatty acids, in other words salmon, mackerel, herring, and some nuts and grains.
However, no matter your treatment, the coping skills you need to employ consist of taking care of yourself by staying with the prescribed treatment plan. Find healthy ways to manage your stress, such as possibly getting a pet (unless of course this would raise your stress level!); socializing; doing volunteer work to help others; or taking a trip. Most of these are similar to the coping skills for depression, no matter the severity…getting your mind and energy, even what is left of it, on someone or something else.
All of this comes to you with the hopes of not just identifying Seasonal Affective Disorder, but offering a few lightweight solutions. I do understand, however, that any depression is serious business, and I am not suggesting playing BINGO with folks in an assisted living home will cure it, but if you can’t change the weather, maybe you can change other things in your environment…and do some good to raise another person’s mood.
I almost believe in a way that by living in a rather overcast, cloudy part of the world as a newlywed, I gained unique coping skills for my future adventures and experiences.
Susan Wright is a vet, a dog expert and a freelance writer. With the holiday season upon us, Susan shares advice on how to beat holiday blues, from a dog lovers perspective.