Leaves are falling, the wind is brisk, and the skies are perpetually gray with rain looming. This is autumn in the Northwest. While all of us tend to spend more time indoors during this cold, dark and wet season, there are some who experience actual “winter depression” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
People with SAD tend to experience symptoms from late fall until spring. SAD is more common in women, and is thought to be caused by decreased exposure to natural sunlight, which leads to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain. Those with SAD sleep more, eat more (especially carbohydrates), are irritable, gain weight, and have a sensation of heaviness in their arms and legs. SAD may also have a negative effect on interpersonal relationships.
There are several treatments for SAD that include light therapy and medications. However, the first step is consultation with the physician to accurately diagnose this condition and prescribe specific treatment modalities. Some things we can all do to feel better during these dark months include:
- Spend time with other people
- Participate in social activities
- Use a dawn simulator, a device that gradually increases light in the bedroom in the early morning hours
- Avoid the temptation of carbohydrates or “comfort foods”
- Get outside and walk as much as possible
Advanced Health Care can help by scheduling caregivers to provide socialization and activities. We can accompany on walks and provide transportation for outings. Our caregivers can shop and prepare healthy meals that limit energy zapping carbohydrates. Call us today to find out how we can help during this dark season at 800-690-3330.