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So You Have Seasonal Depression

For some people, the arrival of winter and snow and cold weather is exciting. For others, it means tiredness and grey skies and, you know, the bottomless pit of despair.

(Okay, maybe it’s not that extreme. But it sure feels like it sometimes.)

I haven’t always had a name for it, but I’ve had seasonal depression ​(or SAD, whatever you want to call it) for my whole life. When I moved from the sunny southern US to the always-chilly Ohio the change became that much more noticeable; when fall and winter rolled around, I was knocked out. I’m less productive, I feel more “lazy”, and it’s hard to even get out of bed without feeling like a miserable ball of nothingness. Coming to grips with that — and realizing that there are ways to cope with it — has been a long and fairly recent battle. As winter creeps in I’m gearing up to face that battle all over again, and I know a lot of other peeps are as well.

If grey skies make you tired, if the cold makes you want to sink into the ground, if you’re hiding from the rest of civilization more than usual, if depression is sinking its claws into you or sinking them in deeper...maybe this is your battle, too. Fortunately, we can come into this armed.

So how, you ask, do we face seasonal depression head-on and punch it in the face?

Light. ​Lots and lots and lots of light. A lack of sunlight or, I should say, a lack of Vitamin D will hit you hard in the winter months. It’s dark, it’s dreary, and the sun just doesn’t peer out that often, so you can’t exactly sit outside and sunbathe to get that light in. BUT! There are plenty of affordable options; lightbulbs and lamps that mimic sunlight and provide you with the light you need to feel better. You’d be surprised at how that cheers you up. I got a Himalayan salt lamp this month, which sounds weird and looks like something that comes out of Star Trek, but it works wonders. I don’t know how. Personally I suspect sorcery or actual Star Trek tech. (Ignore the geek-fest.)

Vitamins.​ ​Did I mention vitamins already? Vitamins. Vitaminssss. Vitamin D, especially, but making sure you’re eating all those vitamin-y foods and maybe even supplements will make sure your body is getting what it needs and, therefore, feeling a lil better.

Exercise. Moving around. ​You are allowed to hate me for saying this. I hate me for saying this. But because of some of some sick trick of the universe, it’s true. 

Make sure you’re doing things. ​Fun things. Social things. Get out and see your friends. Do some weekly activity that gets you out of the house and keeps your mind and body busy. It might not cure your seasonal depression — it probably won’t, to be honest — but if you have things to look forward to and positive things to do, it can’t hurt and will definitely help. Do some artsy things. Go see movies. Make a weekly library trip. Sign up for a cool class you wouldn’t usually get into. Whatever gets you through the winter months. Try a bunch of new things; you’ll shake it up, keep it interesting, and who knows? You might find a new fave.

Be honest and get help if you need it. ​Sometimes, you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, you can’t do it alone. It would be easy to think of seasonal depression as something that’s not “real”, or a “real mental illness”, or “not a big deal”, and so on. But it’s an actual condition, and like any other condition, whether mental or physical, there’s a treatment for that! While it might seem embarrassing or like an overreaction to “get help” — whether that help is a trusted friend/family member, a counselor, a doctor, or even medication — if you’re really truly suffering, you don’t have to suffer alone. You can absolutely seek help.

Will these things make your seasonal depression go away? No. (Well, maybe.) I don’t have an automatic cure. There isn’t an automatic cure, as far as I know. But you’re not alone this winter, and this is something you can fight. Keep your spirits up. Try new things. Attack it and be active about it. You’ll have bad days, and lazy days, and dreary days, and that’s okay.
But you can still get in a few good punches.
What do you do to help with seasonal depression?

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