If you are living in or around the St. Louis Metro area, you’ve probably heard the current winter storm that we are experiencing being referred to as snowmageddon or snowpocolypse. Our media was predicting the entire area being completely paralyzed by the wintry weather. For me, it was very anxiety provoking to watch our news stations staying on “Storm Mode” some even having 24/7 coverage of the upcoming storm. While I felt glued to the TV wondering what was going to happen next, I still went to work, talked to friends, ate healthy meals and slept normal amounts of sleep. Although, that’s not the case for everyone. Thankfully, the worst of the storm missed our area, going to the north instead. While we were still hit by quite a bit of ice, the 12 inches of snow we didn’t get is a true blessing.
During this time, I worry about my clients, and about others out there who haven’t sought out counseling yet. For some, this is the hardest time of the year. For individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), these winter storms can drag one down even further or be even more anxiety provoking than it was for me. These are the individuals that families and friends should be checking up on regularly, especially in winter storms.
SAD is characterized as a mood disorder (depression) that appears in the winter months, in people who have generally normal mental health throughout the spring, summer and fall months. In these individuals, (similar to general depression) they may sleep too much, feel sad(moody) or have low amounts of energy. In some of my clients, they can have an increase of upset stomach, weight loss/gain, and difficulty concentrating. In all of my clients, there is an increase of hopelessness and withdrawing from family and friends.
There are many different treatments for winter based SAD including light therapy (Sunlight, bright lights or special lights), psychotherapy and antidepressants. In addition, some other things that have helped my clients are: diet changes, extended vacations, exercise, spending more time outside, alternative therapies and/or supplements of the hormone melatonin. In session with clients who suffer from SAD, we work on implementing several interventions into their life to better combat what they are experiencing. I also try to show them all the different options to see what best fits in their lifestyle.
If you feel that you may suffer from SAD, and are wanting assistance in determining the best way to fight the winter blues or seasonal depression, please know that I am here to help! Go HERE for some more tips.