Fall may be my favorite time of year! I love the colors changing, drinking hot chocolate under my blanket and watching Netflix! I love wearing big sweaters, lumber jack shirts, rain boots, regular boots, and watching nature change colors all around me. Despite my love for fall, it is also a time when many people get more depressed. The days are shorter, there is less sunshine, and more gloominess.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is known to be associated with the change of seasons, particularly during the fall and winter months. While not everyone experiences SAD, it is estimated to affect a significant number of people. Here are some key statistics and information related to depression in the fall and SAD:
Prevalence: It is estimated that about 5% of the U.S. population experiences SAD, with symptoms typically starting in the late fall and early winter.
Geographical Variations: The prevalence of SAD tends to be higher in regions with less sunlight during the fall and winter months. Northern states and countries with long, dark winters often report higher rates of SAD.
Gender Differences: SAD is more common in women, with approximately 60-90% of diagnosed cases occurring in women.
Age of Onset: SAD usually begins in young adulthood, although it can develop at any age.
Symptoms: Symptoms of SAD can include persistent low mood, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
Seasonal Patterns: SAD typically follows a seasonal pattern, with symptoms occurring during the fall and winter and improving in the spring and summer.
It's important to note that while SAD is more common during the fall and winter months, depression can occur at any time of the year, so let’s review your A, B, C’s of staying ahead of depression and falling in love with fall!
Get more A – Your Key to a Fitter You! By “A” – I mean activity! Go for a jog, walk, move around your office, do yoga… Whatever it is, exercise, and being more active will help you stay more positive because it will produce more endorphins! Endorphins are natural chemicals produced by the body that act as neurotransmitters. They are often referred to as "feel-good" hormones because they can create a sense of well-being and even act as natural pain relievers. When you engage in physical activity, whether it's jogging, dancing, or any other form of exercise, your body releases endorphins, leading to feelings of happiness and reduced stress. This is why exercise is often recommended as a mood booster and a way to relieve stress and improve overall mental health.
Get more B – Your Key to a Relaxed You! By “B” – I mean deeper breaths! Practicing deep breathing exercises helps to calm your mind and reduces stress. Deep, mindful breathing can help regulate your emotions and increase relaxation and increase energy levels by improving oxygen circulation throughout the body. Deep breathing supports the removal of waste and toxins from the body by aiding lymphatic circulation and promoting better oxygen delivery to cells. In addition, deep, calm breathing before bedtime can help you relax and improve the quality of your sleep. There are many benefits, so start deep breathing today! While you are at it, feel free to load up on vitamin B too - Vitamin B, specifically certain B vitamins like B6, B9 (folate), and B12, plays a role in mental health and can help alleviate some symptoms of depression!
Get more C – Your Key to a Happier You! By “C” – I mean counseling! Counseling, often referred to as talk therapy, plays a pivotal role in helping individuals overcome depression. By providing a safe and confidential space for open dialogue, counseling offers a supportive environment where people can explore their emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Through this process, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of their depression, whether they are related to past traumas, challenging life events, or ongoing stressors. Let’s not forget that while at it, you may want to load up on vitamin C as well. Vitamin C will help boost your immune system and therefore ill help you stay healthy and happy!
Get more D – Your Key to a Sunshine You! By “D” – I mean more vitamin D! Increasing your intake of vitamin D, especially during the fall and winter months when sunlight exposure is reduced, can be beneficial for overall health and may help mitigate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Supplement yourself, eat vitamin D rich diet, and get more sunshine anytime you can! If you are still low, our office can prescribe you 50,000 IU vitamin D and you can take it once a week for 3 months to help you get through the fall months!
Get more E – Your Key to a Healthier You! By “E” – I mean more eating, but not just eating, I mean eating a nutritious diet! Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for overall physical and mental well-being. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrients, supports the immune system, and helps prevent various health conditions. It also contributes to mental health by providing the necessary nutrients for brain function and emotional well-being. Eating well is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle and plays a vital role in achieving and maintaining optimal health and well-being. Don’t forget to eat nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables because they are a great source of vitamin E, which helps with neurological health!
Remember that if all else fails and you still feel depressed, you are not alone. Feel free to call us and schedule a nurse practitioner assessment and/or counseling. Your health changes as you mature and even if this never happened before, if you feel depressed for whatever the reason, we are here to help!