Mental Health Series: How to Deal with Seasonal Depression

During the fall and winter months, many Americans enjoy holidays and family time, and anticipate a fresh start in the new year. At the same time, some find the holiday season and the new year challenging. During the changing seasons, many people experience the "winter blues," or seasonal depression, medically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time very year. SAD can sap your energy, make you feel moody, and prevent you from enjoying your life. If you suffer from SAD, Benefits.gov wants you to start the new year off right by taking healthy steps to find support and get better.
According to the National Institute of Health, people with SAD might experience the following symptoms:



  • Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
  • Low energy and feeling sluggish or irritable
  • Problems getting along with other people and hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoyed
  • Oversleeping or having trouble sleeping
  • Change in appetite, weight gain, and craving for foods high in carbohydrates (sweets, fatty foods, snacks, etc)

If you are experiencing these symptoms and think you have SAD, there are many ways you can find support and resources to help you get back to your normal self.

Talk to someone. One of the first steps in overcoming the winter blues is being social. Although it may be difficult, spending time with friends and family can help change your mood. Surround yourself with positive people, and if you feel comfortable, talk to someone you trust about what you're going through.

Consider counseling. It may be necessary to consider a counselor to help you deal with SAD and other types of depression. Consult your current physician, a friend or family member for a referral, or search online through the National Board of Certified Counselors, and other online resources. Benefits.gov also houses a wealth of Counseling programs for this and other mental issues.

Get active. Avoid feeling sluggish by incorporating exercise activity into your day. Whether you go to the gym or for a quick morning jog, it is important to get active and get out of the house. Avoid fatty foods and eat foods that will boost your mood and energy levels. View some of our Food/Nutrition government programs if you are in need of food assistance. Also, decreased sun exposure can contribute to a rise in depressive symptoms, and the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. Make sure to keep a well-lit home and find ways to get more sunlight during the day.

Don't let the winter blues keep you down. If you are in need of additional resources on your journey to good health, consider visiting our Browse by Category page that will direct you to employment resources, healthcare resources, and more.

If you or a loved one that is experiencing depression is at risk for suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Counsel/Counseling
Food/Nutrition