If you become depressed every winter, then you may have a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. While antidepressants are an option for treating this disorder, don't think that they are your only option. Many people do well with alternative treatments for SAD, and they typically should be tried before beginning a prescription medication anyways. There are three natural ways to manage your seasonal depression, and all three can be combined for maximum relief.
1. Maximize Light Exposure
When you are feeling depressed, your first instinct may be to lie in bed in a dark room until you feel better. You can't trust your instincts when you are suffering from SAD, and you must resist this urge. Open up your blinds on sunny days and let the sun shine through those windows as much as possible. Taking a walk first thing in the morning on a sunny day can also be the perfect way to begin a more hopeful day.
If you live in an area of the country where sunshine is scarce in the winter, then a full-spectrum light box is a small investment that can help you greatly. These light boxes emit light that mimics the light from the sun in wavelength, and placing one at arm's length away from your face when reading the morning paper or surfing the internet in the morning can do wonders for your mood all day long.
2. Eat Well
Depression can affect your appetite. Some people lose their appetites when depressed, and others crave sugar and carbohydrates. When feeling depressed, eating well is important to keep levels of serotonin steady in your brain. While you may crave sugar, which spikes serotonin levels immediately after eating, this leads to a yo-yo effect of crashing serotonin levels after the quick surge.
Experts advise eating several small meals every day that contain protein and complex carbohydrates when battling any type of depression. The complex carbohydrates digest slowly, causing your brain to release a steady supply of serotonin all day. The protein stimulates tryptophan production in your brain, which is another relaxing, "feel-good" chemical that can ease depression.
3. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
A big contributor to seasonal depression is the lack of sunlight in the winter. While using the lightbox and letting the sunlight you do get in your area through the windows addresses part of this problem caused by lack of natural sunlight, both options do little to address the vitamin D deficiency that lack of sunlight on your skin causes.
Vitamin D deficiency can contribute greatly to seasonal depression, and taking a supplement daily is the easiest way to address this deficiency. About 800 IUs of Vitamin D should be taken every day to help relieve your depression.
Follow these tips to help manage your winter seasonal depression. It can also be helpful to speak to a psychotherapist, like those at Newsome & Associates, Ltd., to learn more depression relief techniques tailored specifically to you.