Growing up in the chill of the colder months, I always felt this unexplainable sense of melancholy, especially around Christmas, which I adore. This puzzling sadness lingered with me, but I couldn’t quite figure it out until around 2009, shortly after we moved in with some friends. I vividly remember standing on their balcony, gazing out and feeling quite low. This moment sparked my curiosity about why I felt this way every year when the seasons changed. That’s when I stumbled upon something called the ‘winter blues’. It was a relief to learn that my mood swings were normal and linked to the seasonal shift, not just a personal issue.
Fast forward to last year, and I hit the hardest patch of winter blues ever. It kicked in right after daylight saving time ended and stuck around for months. This time, it was so intense that I needed answers. That’s when I learned about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). S.A.D. is a recurring type of depression that usually lasts about 4−5 months a year. The symptoms include:
- Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or empty almost all day, every day, for a minimum of two weeks.
- Experiencing hopelessness, pessimism, irritability, frustration, or restlessness.
- Battling feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
- Losing interest in hobbies and activities, feeling tired and sluggish.
- Struggling with concentration, memory, or decision-making.
- Changes in sleep or eating habits, or unexpected weight changes.
- Physical pains like headaches or digestive problems without any clear reason.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
- In winter-pattern S.A.D., symptoms can also include oversleeping, overeating (especially carbs), weight gain, and wanting to withdraw socially.
Having never really dealt with depression, aside from my ongoing battle with anxiety, I was not about to let this take over. I started exploring social media for solutions and stumbled upon light therapy. It’s this cool lamp that imitates sunlight and is said to help with S.A.D. I got one, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer for my mood swings. I made it a routine to sit under this lamp for about 10-15 minutes every morning, and it made a world of difference in how I felt.
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On top of that, a check-up with my doctor showed that my vitamin D levels were really low. She prescribed some Vitamin D supplements, and ever since I’ve been on them, my winter blues have significantly mellowed out.
So, that’s been my journey with S.A.D. It’s been eye-opening to learn how important it is to take charge of our mental health, whether it’s through therapy, lifestyle adjustments, or seeking medical advice. It’s incredible how a few changes can make such a big difference in our daily lives.