10 Things Everyone Should Know About Seasonal Depression
It's more than just the winter blues.
Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post
If you live any where in the Middle Atlantic or the North Eastern part of the United States you have just lived through a major snowstorm of epic conditions.
For some, the winter is hardly "the most wonderful time of the year".
What is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that affects nearly 10 million American adults and can make a few months out of the year feel downright unbearable. It's common to feel bouts of the winter blues, but those with seasonal depression may experience symptoms and low moods that sometimes make everyday tasks feel impossible.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about seasonal affective disorder, its treatment options and how it affects people's daily lives.
1. The underlying cause of SAD isn't just bad weather.
In most cases, SAD is just a seasonal component of clinical depression or bipolar disorder, according to Michelle Riba, a professor of psychiatry and the associate director of the University of Michigan Depression Center.
"For people who see a regular pattern every year of getting sad, anxious or a cycling of moods, the first thing they need to do is to see someone to get an overall diagnosis," she said. "They need to treat the underlying depression."
It can be easy to blame a bad mood on the earlier dark skies, but people should think twice before saying they "must have SAD." The condition is hardly something to be flippant about.
SAD is not something to laugh about or joke about," Riba said. "It's a significant health problem."
There are multiple ways to treat SAD...
For a long time, many considered light therapy one of the gold standards of SAD treatment. The method helps sufferers by exposing them to artificial light similar to sunlight. Experts theorize this technique helps correct the body's inner circadian rhythm and produces feel-good hormones that people get from the sun during other times of the year.
However, light therapy isn't the only route. Since the key is treating the underlying depression, that could include methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or both. Recently a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that talk therapy may even be more effective than light therapy when it comes to treating SAD. But keep in mind that the best method varies from person to person, Riba says. Any active treatment is better than nothing.
4. ...But it may take some time.
Riba says that most doctors don't determine if a person has SAD until they've experienced at least two episodes (essentially seasons) of the disorder. In other words, it may take a little while to make sure it's the right diagnosis. Physicians want to make sure that they're treating every aspect of a mental health disorder properly.
5. It's debilitating.
Symptoms of SAD include sadness, fatigue and a loss of motivation. Any depressive disorder can also be physically exhausting. People with depression often experience headaches and changes in appetite in addition to their emotional symptoms.
6. SAD doesn't always occur in the winter.
It's rare, but some people do experience the condition in the spring or summertime. These symptoms usually include increased feelings of agitation or anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic.
7. The condition is complex.
According to Riba, SAD can not only be a component of major depression, but also bipolar disorder or other mental health issues. A rare case of SAD also may have contributed to one woman's obsessive compulsive disorder flareups during the winter months. Experts agree that there may be a tie between seasonal changes and exacerbation of illnesses. Like all mental health conditions, the disorder is complicated and as such, deserves thoughtful and effective treatment from a physician.
8. It's more prevalent in northern states.
People who live in colder, cloudier climates may be more susceptible to the disorder. Northern states have higher rates of SAD than southern states, according to the University of California, Irvine.
9. SAD is more common in women.
Studies show women have higher rates of depression than men, including SAD, the New York Times reported. However, that doesn't mean men are immune. Depression doesn't discriminate and can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any biological factor.
10. It should be taken seriously.
Above all, mental health conditions like SAD are manageable, but only if people seek the help they need.
"It's important for people to recognize these signs within themselves and get evaluated," Riba said. "This isn't a trivial problem, it's part of a major mood disorder that really needs to be addressed.
2017: A New Year With New Possibilities-
Every single human being on this planet has a path and purpose to fulfill, whether they realize it or not. Whether it is fulfilled within your career, volunteer work, parenting, creating social change, or something else entirely, you too have a brilliant purpose and it's about time you found it.
This is Part I of some surefire ways to find your passion and live your purpose starting today.
1. List what you love and connect the dots. Identifying the things you absolutely love to do in life is the single best thing you can do to find your passion and purpose. It may not make sense at first, but all of the things you enjoy doing are part of your path in one form or another, so grab a pen and paper and start writing. By creating what I call a 'Love List', you get really clear on all of the things you love including foods, experiences, travel, and the things you love to do. Once you have your list, take a step back and see how all these brilliant pieces might connect to the work you are meant to do in the world. The key is to be open, honest, and to let your inspiration run wild. (Hint: The pieces may come together in a way you never dreamed, so keep an open mind.)
2. Identify what you do with ease. Often times our passion and purpose are staring us right in the face, but it's so natural to us, we don't think anything about it. What you do in your everyday life with ease is likely in some way connected to what you are meant to do in this life. Don't overlook the things that are easy for you because I guarantee, just because they are easy for you, doesn't mean that's the case for everyone else. By identifying what comes naturally to you, you have the ability to build on those strengths and help others in ways you never thought possible.
3. Look at your past. Many times the very struggles we've managed to move through in our lives become part of the tapestry that is our purpose. By looking at your past and the circumstances you've successfully moved through, you have a perspective that many people in the world do not. You can then use that experience to help others who are just starting out on a similar journey and make a huge impact in world. What part of your life story do you feel passionate about? That's usually a clue as to what your bigger purpose might be.
4. Play like a child. As adults we tend to forget about the joy and freedom we felt as a child. When you were younger you likely had a wild imagination and were open to any and all possibilities about what you could be. Whether it was being a singing and dancing firefighter or the teacher who also saved the world, you never once questioned the reality of your dreams. You simply allowed your imagination and heart to guide you. It's time to spark up your creativity and get dreamy again by tapping into your inner child. Get out of your head for a bit and into your heart and go have some good old-fashioned fun. For that is usually where you will find your major 'aha' moments that will lead you to amazing ideas and ultimately your purpose.
5. Do what makes you happy...all of it. Finding your passion is directly related to doing the things that light you up and set your soul on fire. If it makes you happy to sing, write, and build things then go do it! If you love to teach, run, and host live events then please, do it all! Who says your life purpose has to be just one thing? Human beings by nature have multiple interests and to feel like you have to choose one thing goes against the very freedom you likely desire. You are meant to experience life and all that it has to offer, so don't limit yourself to just one thing. Try lots of things and do what makes you happy. Therein lies the path to your true purpose.
6. Ask others to help. If you are still feeling stuck in finding your passion and purpose in life, it might be time to ask others for help. As your own worst critic, it can be difficult for you to see where you truly shine because you are simply too close to connect the dots on your own. Friends, family members, and professionals (like coaches) have a view that you don't and they can help you see things within yourself that will lead you to do not only what you love, but also what you are meant to do.
Passion and purpose go hand-in-hand, so when you are struggling to find your purpose get back to what brings you joy and in no time you will be making a difference while also living a life you love.
Let's keep the conversation going. What do you find is the most difficult part of finding your passion and living your purpose?
Lamisha Serf-Walls is a life coach for women who are ready to live an amazing life on their own terms, but feel held-back and frustrated in how to make that happen. Her mission is to create a community of empowered, free flowing, lovers of life who live a life of freedom with ease and inspire others to do the same. You can learn more about Lamisha and what she offers by visiting her Online, on Facebook, or Twitteror grab her free audio 5 Ways to Break Free From Stuck.