The holiday season is here. There are many sayings about the holidays, most of which emphasize how it is the “most wonderful time of the year”. For some though, it can be a sad time and a time of loneliness and depression.
In therapy terms, this can sometimes be known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Basically, it is depression during the same time every year, typically starting in September or October and lasts until March or April. Scientists believe one reason for the onset of SAD is the lack of sunlight due to shorter days. I would go as far to say that it also has to do with the pressure some feel to be happy in their lives at this time of the year. It can sometimes serve as a reminder that we don’t have a significant other to share the holidays with (if you are single), or a time when we cannot be with our beloved family members because they’re far away or maybe they are no longer living. Throw in some stress over planning and the money it sometimes takes to do such things, and it can be a perfect storm for feeling down and depressed. There isn’t an official diagnostic test for SAD, but here are some symptoms to look out for:
- difficulty with concentration
- change in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or insomnia)
- weight gain or loss
- change in appetite (binging or not eating)
- not enjoying activities that were once pleasurable (sex, exercising, going out with friends)
- crying spells
- on occasion suicidal thoughts
Here are some ways to combat SAD should you find yourself in this state of being:
- increase your activity level
- decrease isolation
- find coping skills that work for you, for example, meditation, breathing exercises,
- taking a long bath, reading, walking, etc.
- spend more time outside if you can
- light treatment (there are light boxes one can utilize that offer a photosynthetic treatment for the lack of sunlight we experience in the winter months).
- ask for help, especially if thoughts of suicide are present.
As always, the staff at Houston Relationship Therapy are here to help with any struggles you are experiencing, whether it be SAD or any other type of mental health issues.
If you have any further questions about this topic or to schedule a session with one of our clinicians, please CONTACT US.
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