Jenna Behrens is a licensed professional counselor who has been practicing in the mental health field for seven years. She owns Behrens Psychotherapy Services, LLC which has four office locations around the Milwaukee area. She works with children, adolescents, families, and adults on a wide array of issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD, childhood behavioral disorders, adjustment disorders, stress and parenting.
What better day to write about the weather changing that Daylight Savings Day? Around this time of year, some of us start to feel irritable, down, or tired. The sun is shining less, it's cold out, and it gets dark earlier. People who suffer from seasonal depression can be diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD typically rears its ugly head in fall and lasts through the winter months.
I remember April of last year and it was still gloomy and cold and all my clients were telling me they were depressed. The winter seemed to go on from November to May and by March/April everyone was feeling it. I was right there with my clients. I would even tell them "I know how you're feeling" because I did. I was tired and cranky. I just wanted a 50 degree sunny day. It eventually came but geez it took a long time and the older I get, the less tolerant I am of the weather. Good thing I have a bad memory or I probably wouldn't still be living here. Not when there's places like San Diego that are sunny and 70 year round. But, I do love the four seasons and celebrating the holidays with fresh snow which you can't get in San Diego.
So, what do we do about SAD. Try these coping skills if you experience SAD:
-Phototherapy (light therapy): You can find special light boxes sold online that help with SAD. Use the light as directed which is typically for about 30 mins in the AM and PM.
-Social Support: Getting out, spending time with people you enjoy, and talking about your feelings is a great way to cope all year round but especially if you're experiencing SAD.
-Psychotherapy: Get support from a professional who can work with you on balancing out your mood year round, help you work on prevention, and can teach you how to change your thinking which will help change your mood.
-Antidepressants: If SAD is negatively impacting your daily functioning, you may want to speak to your doctor about taking an antidepressant short term.
-Vitamin D: Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels. If they're low, taking a Vitamin D supplement can help boost your mood.
-Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a great natural way help SAD.
If you're feeling hopeless, can't sleep for several days, having suicidal thoughts or any other symptoms that worry you, please seek professional help.
And good luck! I have a feeling we are going to need it this year!