Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of the most common disorders in the U.S., characterized by a lowered mood over the span of the fall and winter months when exposure to sunlight is less available to people in certain regions of the country. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of the disorder during the winter months include, but are not limited to:
- Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
While some of these symptoms may be analogous to those describing major depressive disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) tends to be more common, as a lack of exposure to frequent sunlight can lower one’s motivation to see the joy in everyday life. This article will discuss a few ways that can lower symptoms of SAD, like reducing blue light exposure from tv and computer screens and taking vitamin D supplements.
Reducing Blue Light
A great program to download for people suffering from SAD is called f.lux. It’s free online and is able to generate a service that changes the color temperature on your screen to match the color temperature of the weather outside. The way this helps those suffering is by helping them get adjusted to the alignment of the light outdoors and the blue light they’re constantly exposed to on their computer. Because SAD is so dependent on the light that we’re exposed to outside, f.lux can be a great help to one’s health during the winter.
F.lux calculates the exact coordinates of where your computer is located and adjusts the light temperature to a healthy setting in contrast to the blue light the computer typically generates. Instead of staring at blue light all day and night, at a certain hour (depending on the preferences you choose), f.lux changes this blue light to red light, bringing forth a more natural light setting that is analogous to the color of the sunset outside. This is a great way for people in the winter to be reminded of the warmth of the sun and can literally brighten their day.
As we are constantly using our laptops for work and entertainment, f.lux can be a helpful tool that allows you not only to lower your exposure to blue light, but also reminds you that SAD is seasonal disorder and will not last forever. All in all it is a great tool to reduce blue light that can exasperate SAD. Alternatives to f.lux include Redshift, Sunset Screen, Lightbulb, and Twilight, all programs which can be found for free and downloaded online.
Blue Light Glasses
Another investment that can help reduce symptoms of SAD is purchasing blue light glasses, a fun new trend that has hit the scene since awareness has recently been raised about the harmful effects of blue light caused on people’s mental health. Blue light glasses are an accessory meant to be worn while using a computer or tv screen and can be purchased online. The price for these glasses can vary from $7-$100 dollars depending on your preference for quality and style. You can also get a blue light coating for prescription glasses through your optometrist. The science behind them is meant to not only lower exposure to blue light generated by your screen, but lower the propensity to suffer from strained vision while staring too long at a screen in general. While downloading a blue light-reduction program on your computer for free might also be a nifty alternative to this investment, anyone who might have ever wished for glasses as an accessory might find their dreams becoming a reality while also lowering their exposure to blue light and the symptoms of SAD.
Vitamin D Supplements
Exposure to sunlight is an important way to get vitamin D and in the winter months, the lack of natural sunlight often results in a vitamin D deficiency that can worsen symptoms of SAD.
If the weather has you feeling down-in-the-dumps, try increasing your vitamin D intake with supplements. After a couple weeks of consumption, the supplements will raise levels of vitamin D that would normally be generated by exposure to the sun, making it easier for someone who normally is in need of this natural supplement to feel happier during cooler, darker months when the sun does not show its light as frequently. Vitamin D supplements can be found and purchased in any local drugstore or online and prices generally vary from $7-$30, depending on the type of product you’re looking for.
While it can sometimes be difficult to see the silver lining during the winter due to the cold weather and lack of sun, it is important to remember that life moves in cycles; seasons change and so does everything else. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition that affects many people, but there are small changes that you can make to help make getting through it easier.
Grappling with depression of any kind can be difficult to deal with. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression that affects many people during the cold, winter months due to shorter days and less sunlight. At Sober Life Recovery Center, located in San Diego, California, we do everything we can to help patients struggling with depression and other forms of mental illness. This article a few ways to help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. If your depression is worsening or if you are using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, you may need to seek professional help. Sober Life treats a range of issues, including substance use disorder and mental health disorders, and can give you the help you deserve. Sober Life’s team of specialists can lead you on a path towards recovery from any mental health issue that may be bringing problems to your life. Call (619) 542-9542 today to learn more.