SAD: What it is and What to Do

You shopped 'til you dropped. You sent out Christmas cards and invitations, cooked, baked, cleaned, decorated and wrapped gifts. You hosted parties, attended others and visited relatives. You might have had a day's reprieve before hustling and bustling for another round of frivolity for the New Year's celebrations. While all this is going on, you still went to work every day and that might've been more demanding than usual with year-end tasks to do.

The first week of the new year started out just as busy as it had been during the holiday season. The tree and decorations had to be taken down and stored again, the house had to be cleaned and restored to order, gifts had to be returned, and the after season sales were irresistible. Plus, there were all the new 'toys' to play with and learn how to use and all the new clothes to try on and match up. Finally, the first "normal" weekend comes. Sleep in! Not too long though; there are still a few loose ends to tie up.

Tomorrow is the first day of the first normal week of the new year.

The alarm clock will go off at its normal time, jarring you out of a deep sleep. You'll pry an eye open to look at it, hit the snooze because you see it is still very dark and you must've set it too early. The next time it goes off, you wish you could just roll over and sleep. Finally, the nagging succeeds in getting your feet on the floor, though the cotton between your ears is particularly thick. That punch-drunk feeling is still with you by the time you get to work, and may last until lunch. Yep, write Day #1 off to jet lag and call it a day.

The rest of the week may be much the same, though you will start taking note of more things as you go. Was it always dark when the alarm goes off in the mornings? Was it always dark by the time I got home from work? Was it always this difficult to kick into a productive mode at work? Do I always feel this tired?

This is normal and to be expected. Next week may start out much the same way, but by the end of the week, you should be pretty much back to your normal self. I say "should", but it's really more of a scale. Some people never go through this punch-drunk, let-down stage and others take more time readjusting to day-to-day life. Try to remember how you felt last year and the year before to get a sense of what is normal for you.

Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you take a bit longer to recover from the holiday season, you are not alone. And, you don't have to struggle through it either. You could have a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly called "Cabin Fever" or "Winter Blues". Research supports the causes of SAD to be an interruption of your body's internal clock, melatonin production increase, and a drop in the production of serotonin. SAD symptoms will start as soon as it becomes colder and the days shorter, but you might not have noticed them with all the demands of the holiday season going on. Here is a list of what to watch for:

  • Depression - We all have sad, down days, but you seem to have more.

  • Hopelessness - I think of this as a big let-down, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and the expectation that tomorrow won't be any better than today.

  • Anxiety - You are worried, anxious and sometimes even fearful.

  • Loss of energy - It's funny that this is more a feeling than an actual physical sensation.

  • Social withdrawal - You don't feel like going to lunch with coworkers or to the mall or skiing on the weekend.

  • Oversleeping - You go to bed early and hit the snooze button more than a few times. You take a nap whenever you possibly can. (In depression, this is a change of sleep pattern - you may sleep a lot more or a lot less.)

  • Loss of interest - What used to be enjoyed and anticipated is now something you don't want to bother with.

  • Appetite changes - You may eat a lot more or a lot less now, and SAD adds in a powerful craving for starches and carbohydrates (different from depression).

  • Weight gain - Since all you're eating is carbs, the weight goes up.

  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information - The cotton-between-the-ears, jet-lagged feeling.
Medically, if many of these symptoms exist and persist or worsen over a two week period, then antidepressants may be a course of treatment for you. You may even consider starting antidepressants before you start to feel symptoms of SAD if this happens every year. Make an appointment with your doctor. There are other things you can do to help:

  • Open the curtains and blinds and let the sun shine in!

  • Go outside as much as possible. Even a half hour during lunch can work wonders.

  • Get some exercise and work on getting fit.

  • Get enough rest and relaxation, eat healthy, and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Note that carbs and caffeine bring you up for awhile, then you crash.

  • Spend time with friends and supportive family members. A good laugh is always a boost.
Um, I have to add this in: Read A Bumpy Path every day for more information and inspiration!

Thanks for reading!

Referenced this article by the Mayo Clinic.

0 added their thoughts:

Post a Comment