DECEMBER HAS ME IN MY FEELINGS!!
There I said it.
But for real, I’m totally not a winter person. See, growing up in Florida, I learned the cold comes and goes depending on the day. Days are full of sun, temperatures stay above freezing, and heaters run for about two weeks, at most. Then, I moved to New York. I should have known what was up when the 2016 blizzard hit just as my bed was delivered. I thought I was going to have to cook for the delivery men!! The snow piled so fast!
I can’t be mad, though. If it weren’t for the move up here, I wouldn’t have even known the ins and outs of wardrobe changes or that seasons can affect your mood. The endless grey overcast skies, wet snowflakes, and cold gusts of winds seem to beat you up at every moment, if you even make it outside. Snow days were fun as a child, but honestly, I go crazy as an adult. But, it’s not an overnight crazy or the crazy that you are thinking.
It starts around the end of October, trickling through November, and snowballing into an avalanche in December and January: mood changes, extremely low energy, loss of interest in most anything, social withdrawal, the feeling of helplessness. Same time, every year. One day I found myself gazing longingly out the window at blue skies, no clouds, and the sun shining — my mind and body entirely out of sync. So much so I thought, like, there’s something really wrong.
Enter Doctor Kreiswirth.
Just as they do in the movies, I told Dr. Kreiswirth the symptoms and asked for a referral for a psychologist. I never thought of harming myself, but I knew I had never felt this low for this long. She smiled at me and hugged me then handed me a pamphlet, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is SAD? Glad you asked. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons beginning and ending the same time every year. Signs and symptoms range from low energy, lack of concentration, and oversleeping including:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Tiredness or low energy
- Social withdrawal
- School or work problems
Dr. Kreiswirth assured me there was no need to jump straight into therapy and that I was not alone. SAD affects more than 10 million Americans and is four times more likely to occur in Women, usually surfacing between the ages of 18 and 30. If anything, it seems as though I was right on time.
While SAD is a serious, often misdiagnosed, illness, there were a few steps I should take before paying $300 to lay on someone’s couch. People with SAD produce an extremely low amount of melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D. So to alleviate some of the symptoms, she suggested:
- Physical exercise: at least 30 minutes 3-5 times a week
- Light therapy: Sit in front of an artificial light that imitates outdoor light for roughly 30 minutes
- Vitamins/Minerals: Vitamin D and melatonin supplements, CBD oil
- Therapies, psychologists, medicines, and antidepressants
I participate heavily in the first three suggestions, but that’s what works for me. I urge you to check-in, not only with your friends and family, but with yourself as well. If you or anyone you know experience any of these symptoms, talk to a doctor immediately. There is no shame in seeking or asking for help! 😉