A Sad Person's Survival Guide to Seasonal Depression
For some, the holiday season brings family time, love, and presents. For others... we get the gift of seasonal depression!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional therapist nor do I claim to be. These are all tips from personal experiences.
So you slept through an entire weekend and woke up wondering what the hell you’ve done with your life. Welcome to seasonal depression. I’ve been dealing with seasonal depression for several seasons now, so you could say I’m an expert... at being depressed!
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is a type of depression that reoccurs during seasonal changes. Feel like sleeping all the time? Sometimes SAD can make you overproduce melatonin 😜. SAD is diagnosed four times more often in women than in men. On top of that, it’s far more common in young adults.
There are four major types of treatment for SAD: medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, and vitamin D. I take bupropion, which is an approved SSRI for SAD. It’s not a cure-all, though. It helps me focus and get things done, but I still need light therapy if I don’t want to feel sluggish or take 3 naps a day.
If you know it’s coming, what can you do to prepare before the ride comes?
1. MAKE A PLAN
What cheers you up when you’re sad? What can you do to get out of a weekend sleeping binge? Make a plan, whether its a list of friends to rely on or a mental health app that keeps you in check.
2. FORGIVE YOURSELF
That two-hour nap just turned into six hours and you’re beating yourself up over it. Forgive yourself. It will probably happen again… but you CAN promise yourself that the next weekend or day will be more productive than the previous one. Sometimes, you’ve just got to nap for 24 hours.
It’s nice to think that you’ll overcome this in a matter of days. The frustration that comes along with that not materializing can be a lot to deal with on top of the depression. Be kind to yourself and set small, realistic goals like having lunch with friends or napping only once during a weekend.
3. DON'T BE SHY TO ASK FOR HELP
Be honest with your friends. The answer is probably what you don’t expect! I’ve had great feedback like, “I had no idea you were going through that. You should have come to us sooner.”
This also may help you realize which friends are more supportive than others. Note that, and remember to lean on the good ones when times get tough because trust me, they want to help you!
4. INVEST IN A THERAPY LAMP
I had a therapy lamp at one of my past offices and it helped on days when I felt really down and unmotivated. Now I have one set up in my bathroom that I turn on while I get ready every morning, and it really helps in giving you that extra push to get through the morning. It’s clinically proven to help, and there are so many affordable options. I personally wish I could glue the therapy lights to the back of my eyelids for the rest of my life but apparently it doesn’t work that way.
5. IT’S OKAY IF YOU HAVE TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you’re not seeing a therapist, think of seeing one. It’s easier said than done, and even good insurance can hinder you from getting what you need if you live in America. A psychiatrist may be a good idea if you’re already seeing a therapist and they’ve recommended taking that step. I always tell people to try therapy before medicine because here in America, psychiatrists tend to give you anything. Do your own research and be prepared to be an advocate for yourself in the doctor’s office, because that's just the world we live in.