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What to Do About Seasonal Affective Disorder

What to Do About Seasonal Affective DisorderFor me it comes on in the fall. I don’t really know why. I much prefer the cooler, grayer weather to the hard sun of summer. But around September of every year I start to feel the weight of the world.

It’s not so much depression as it just a general feeling of being fed up with everything, of not wanting to deal with the frivolous and not seeing the point in the day-to-day stuff I have to do.

I’ve been fighting this feeling for a few weeks now and I’m pretty sure it has to do with the changing of the seasons, but I’m sure other things are contributing to it. I’ve been busier than usual and I haven’t had that much time to myself. I also haven’t been exercising that much in the past few weeks.

Seasonal affective disorder is defined by Google as a depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light. It affects me and millions of other people around the world but the funny thing about it is that no one really knows that much about it.

I can only speculate, but I think it’s safe to say that the number of antidepressant prescriptions in the U.S. spike around this time of year.

It comes on slowly, too. At first it’s sort of just a dull ennui around September. Before you know it you’re cursing the world and just casually thinking about ways to kill yourself.

This is just my experience with it, though. In my time living with schizophrenia, I’ve seen my fair share of ups and downs. Eventually you learn to roll with it.

There are several things I do for myself when I feel depression or seasonal affective disorder coming on. These ideas may or may not help you, but I thought I’d share.

First, I try to limit stress. If that means letting one or two obligations go, that’s OK. It’s important to feel like you’re OK with things. If you’re stressed out, it’s way too easy to feel a loss of control.

Second, I try to get good sleep. I’m pretty strict with my sleep regimen to begin with, but around this time of year, I try to be very careful. If that means limiting caffeine or sticking to a strict schedule, so be it. Without sleep, it’s fair to say that I get a bit off.

I also think it’s important to get exercise. During this time of year, when the skies start to go gray, it can feel like even more of a chore to get out and be active. But even something simple like a walk around the neighborhood or a bike ride to the store several times a week can do great things for your mental well-being.

Meditation may be an option as well. It seriously helps to take an hour or so in the morning to close your eyes and just breathe and listen to the birds or the wind through the trees. I don’t know why it helps, but after a while of this, when you open your eyes again you feel recharged and extremely serene. It’s actually kind of weird.

Another big thing that can help with depression is seeing friends or family. For someone with mental illness it’s very easy to isolate yourself when you don’t feel so hot. You feel fed up with people, but seeing people that you trust and that you like may actually do you well. It’s fun to laugh and to feel like someone gets you. Even if the feeling only lasts for an afternoon, it’s still a break from feeling the heaviness of it all and wallowing in that.

That’s just what helps me. You may disagree, but seasonal affective disorder is an actual thing and self-care goes a long way.

What to Do About Seasonal Affective Disorder

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). What to Do About Seasonal Affective Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Oct 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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