Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter Blues- Treatment Options-Light Therapy for SAD

Happy winter solstice everyone. Today it's below freezing, but I still wanted to come outside because you just got ta get outside in the winter. In the northern hemisphere. December 21st is the darkest day of the year.

. The sun shines for the least amount of time, and the night is the longest, and every day from here on out is going to have about 90 more seconds of daylight.. So little by little, the northern hemisphere is going to get lighter and brighter and before you know it summer will have arrived, and I like to think of that.

As analogy for our lives. Little changes like that one new skill or one new way of thinking, just like those 90 extra seconds of daylight, that can create a huge difference over time in our lives.. Now.

Lets. Leave that optimism behind for a minute and talk about how crappy winter is. In the clinic I work at. We see some interesting trends and one of them is the fact that from June until August, we have a relatively lower number of clients and in January through March, we see a lot more people who are really struggling.

. So in this video, you are going to learn all about seasonal, affective disorder, how the seasons impact mood and what you can do about it and were also going to talk about how seasonal affective disorder can surprisingly impact you during the spring and in the summer.

. This video is sponsored by Better Help where you can get professional, affordable, liscenced counseling from the comfort of your own home.. If you check out the link in the description, you can sign up for services where you can start seeing a counselor really soon and they can work with you through video chat or through messaging and other ways to help.

You find new ways and new strategies to deal with the difficulties that you're facing.. Now we all know 2020 has been a little bit difficult to say the least, and I think we can all use a little bit of extra support right now.

. I was talking to one of my friends. She had signed up for Better Help and she said she had a really good experience with it and that the counselor actually reached out to her so much through the messaging app that she got a little bit worried.

She actually told the counselor & # 39. It's. Ok, you take a day off, you know & # 39. So if you'd, like to get a little extra support, go ahead and check out the link in the description to learn more about Better Help and what kind of services they can provide.

You., Seasonal, affective disorder is a type of depression that's associated with the changes in the seasons, and it also has the clever acronym S.A.D.. It's, also called winter blues.. So these symptoms often start in the fall and keep going through winter, but a lot of people don't notice, the cumulative impact on them until the middle of winter.

With winter seasonal, affective disorder, people feel less energetic and more moody, and they have A lot of symptoms that are similar to depression., It can look like loosing interest in activities. You once enjoyed feeling sluggish or tired having problems with sleep, feeling, hopeless, gaining weight, having appetite changes and specifically in the winter cravings for more food, especially high carb foods.

. Now, around 20 % of Americans that's, like 65 million people, experience, seasonal, affective, disorder.. This disorder impacts people who live closer to the poles so closer to the North Pole or the South Pole, because the amount sunlight varies there more dramatically with the seasons than near the equator.

. Now I'm from Cache Valley Utah, where we only get about 9 hours of daylight on winter solstice.. So that means that if you work indoors and you go to work at eight and you get home at five, you won't.

Even see the sun peaking out from behind the mountains. Temperatures, often hover below freezing for weeks, and the air quality is sometimes the worst in the whole country., So long story short winter can be pretty miserable, and that's.

Not just for me. In one study, 85 % of people with mood disorders like depression, said that their symptoms got worse during the winter months.. Now an interesting thing is that most people, don't know that seasonal affective disorder also impacts some people in the spring.

. Some people feel depressed have trouble, sleeping they loose weight, but it's, common for them to feel agitated and anxious to feel a lot more energy, almost manic at times.. This is most likely to happen with people with bipolar disorder where spring and summer can bring on mania and fall, and winter can bring on.

You know a time of depression or low mood.. If you & # 39, ve read the book Educated by Tara Westover. The author talks about her father, who showed these symptoms of bipolar disorder.. Now her family lives about 40 miles north of where I grew up and my mom occasionally runs into her mom in town.

. In the book, Tara twice recounts the story of her father, slipping into deep depression during the cold, Idaho winters and to manage that their family would drive south to Arizona and the dad would just like lay on the porch and bask in the sun for hours.

Every day and then eventually he got his energy back and then they would drive back to Idaho. But if you & # 39, ve read the book on their drives back to Idaho. The father was impatient, reckless and irritable, and he may have even felt invincible.

. Now. These are all symptoms of mania and on both of those drives back. They got into really bad car crashes., Both the depression during the dark winter and the intense energy he felt after his exposure to sunlight are probably due to how light exposure changes, brain chemistry.

. The light that enters our eyes triggers our brain to produce melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with happiness, sleep, digestion, sex and a bunch of other things, and our skin has the ability to produce serotonin when sunlight hits it, and I think that's, one reason why taking a mid-winter trip to the beach feels amazing.

Now for me during the horrible winters in cache valley, I used to always travel south in February for a sunny trip to St. George.. We'd, go climbing and just a little bit of sunshine and even like 50 degree days, just like felt amazing.

. If you wan na learn more about how sunlight impacts, the brain and impacts, mood and serotonin levels go ahead and check out my other video on light therapy for non-seasonal depression., But anyways back to seasonal, affective disorder.

In the winter, when there's, less Light people tend to feel depressed, they tend to have low energy and to feel down, but in the spring some people end up feeling more energy and agitation. Spring seasonal.

Affective disorder is often overlooked as a contributing factor to mental health issues, and suicide rates are at the highest right at that transition from winter to spring, when people have been at their lowest and then they start feeling more energy and agitation.

. So this is interesting because it's kind of similar to what we see when people start taking antidepressants. Now modern society, dosen't allow for natural patterns.. I think sometimes we get this idea in our head, that our bodies and our minds are out to get us that we're.

Just you know screwed up people and we have to fight all these negative impulses and the instincts that we have in order to overcome them.. Now, in my experience, I've found that's, its generally more helpful to work with our drives and our instincts and our emotions and to channel those into positive directions than to fight them.

. So I genuinely believe that we and our bodies and our minds are inherently good and that the things that stem from them are functional at their core.. We just tend to sometimes get in the way of those.

. So, for example, if you check out the symptoms of seasonal, affective disorder, it's, things like oversleeping, craving food gaining weight. These are all perfectly functional, drives and behaviors. If you're, a cave man right If survival of the species or your family is important, then the only way for our ancestors to survive.

The scarcity and cold of winter was to build up a fat reserve and to sleep through the long cold nights and to just hang out in your tiny hut during the short cold days.. If you had tons of energy and excitement during those months of confinement, you may drive yourself crazy or drive other people crazy, not to mention burning tons of calories that you didn't.

Have the food reserves to replace. Spring seasonal? Affective disorder can also serve a function. That's, a time to have tons of energy agitation time to get those seeds in the ground time to loose that winter weight right get rid of that hibernation store.

You were keeping in your mid-section.. All of these & quot symptoms & quot served an excellent survival function before the days of indoor heating and nine to five work days year, round., Basically, what it comes down to is, if we were allowed to hibernate during the winter and live outdoors and work and Sleep following a more natural schedule, then we might not have as big of a problem with seasonal mood disorders, but our modern society and work and school schedules don't really allow for that, and since most of us can't afford A trip to the beach or we're all locked up during this global pandemic.

One of the ways that you can treat seasonal, affective disorder is through light. Therapy. Bright light therapy is, when you use an artificial light to mimic the sun. This helps your brain and your body produce more serotonin and melatonin.

Light therapy can help people fall asleep more easily at night and feel happier and more energized. During the day. Light, therapy has been shown through rigorous research to be very effective, and it has shown to be as effective to treating non-seasonal depression as anti-depressants.

It's also consistently been shown to be really effective at treating seasonal, affective, disorder. It's also relatively inexpensive, but it's not usually covered by insurance.. Now this winter, I've, tried light therapy for the first time I've, been doing it for about six weeks, and I have actually noticed a huge difference in my mood and energy levels.

. After about two weeks of doing light therapy. I was actually feeling like a little bit too energetic and I needed to take a couple days off and kind of tone back how many minutes I was doing every day.

Now I just do like ten minutes a day and it really does make a difference.. So I would really recommend choosing a high quality therapy. Light. Now Carex is not sponsoring this video. They sponsored one of my other videos.

They sent me a therapy light and I actually I loved it., So I would recommend their lamp even without a paid promotion or any thing like that, and you can check out the link in the description. You don't.

Have you buy that lamp, but what you're looking for is something that has 10,000 lux at a comfortable distance. Its got an angle above the eyes it's, a very large area, so you & # 39. Ll, see a lot of cheap lights on amazon that are really small and they sit on your desk and those are probably better than nothing.

But there're, not as effective as the large lamps that come from a downward angle., So that's. The kind of lamp that I recommend getting., I'm - also going to encourage you to work with your doctor before trying light therapy, but it is something you can do at home and just quickly to tell you how to do it.

It's best. If you do it right after you, wake up you wan na be consistent. It takes a little bit of time for the effects to add up. You just do it. You know fifteen to thirty minutes. Every morning you don't need to stare straight into the light box.

You can just put it at your table or your desk. While you're working or putting on makeup or eating your breakfast., It's. Also, really important to start your sessions around the same time every day, because what you're doing is help reset your circadian rhythm.

. The other thing I recommend is that you just kind of keep track of your treatment and your moods so that you cannotice what's working and what isn't working and the other real concern with light therapy.

Is that sometimes light therapy can trigger mania.? So if you have bi-polar or if you & # 39, ve had manic episodes in the past. I definitely recommend talking with your doctor to make sure it's, a good choice for you and light therapy.

Isn't, the only treatment for seasonal, affective, disorder. Building healthy lifestyle is essential to managing your mood anytime, but especially during the winter.. So some other treatments for seasonal, affective disorder include Medication, so medications, including ssri & # 39.

S can be effective at helping improve mood in a lot of different ways. Exercise. This is always good for the mood and for the body. Therapy can be helpful. It can help you explore how your thoughts and your actions may be contributing to your low mood, and you can learn some new skills to manage and combat mood disorders.

And you know, therapy has been shown to be effective at treating seasonal, affective disorder even with just a few sessions.. Another really important thing is socialization. In the winter, people tend to spend less time together.

You know you aren't outside doing fun, things together or running into your neighbors, while cutting the lawn or whatever.. So it's. You know, whenever possible. I know its really hard right now, but do what you can to get some socialization in right, Whether it's, a play group with other moms doing zoom meetings or zoom games together or even just gaming together.

. I know it's hard, but it's still really important to find a way to see friends.. Another thing to consider is vitamin D. Most Americans have low vitamin D levels and that is associated with depression.

. Your body uses sunlight to metabolize vitamin D and those levels tend to drop in the winter, but there are mixed results about whether supplementing with vitamin D is effective or not. So I do recommend working with your doctor to explore that option.

. Another thing you could consider is see if you can adjust your schedule to get a little bit of outside time when the sun is shining.. So if you generally work from eight to five, you could try shifting your work schedule a little bit forward or a little bit backwards so that you can get some sunlight and it's best.

If you can get some sunlight in the morning that actually helps your brain, have more energy and be a little bit happier.. So, if possible, you know, maybe you can bump your work back to nine or ten and then work a little later in the evening, but see some sunlight in the morning.

. Another really important skill, I believe, is learning how to dress for winter.. If you know how to wear layers - and you know how to wear the right amount of clothes, then you can still do a whole lot of things.

Even when it's, cold or wet or dark.. My husband moved from California to Utah and in California it's, like generally t-shirt weather, like nine days out of ten, if not more right, and he just basically felt like when it's.

Freezing outside you just can't go outside and you know. I really believe that if you learn how to dress and what to wear, you can have a really good winter experience.. So you could buy a jacket like mine, that's like a sleeping bag.

, I mean I like it., So things like good boots socks, a hat and thermal underwear can really make a world of difference. Wearing layers when you are outside can make almost any weather accessible. My dad goes biking even in the middle of the dark freezing winters.

. Some simple changes like light therapy exercise learning how to dress for cold weather can make a huge difference.. Okay. I hope that's helpful. I hope you all have a lovely winter and don't whine about it as much as I do and find a way to make it a good one.

. Thank you for watching and take care.


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