How to Deal With Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a relatively common phenomenon. It stems from the fact that sunlight stimulates the production of a number of neurotransmitters in the brain. As the sky dims and the days shorten over long winter months, it's not unusual for individuals who are prone to depression to find themselves growing increasingly melancholy throughout the season. If you see prolonged mood swings such as these and suspect that winter may be partially to blame, it's important to deal with the feelings and seek substantive help before your symptoms get worse.

Things You'll Need

  • Diary or journal
  • Health insurance
  • Doctor


  1. Diagnose the Problem

    • 1

      Examine your mood carefully. Are you feeling down no matter what happens in your life? Are you finding experiences that used to be fun are now flat, without much emotional reward? Do you have trouble motivating yourself to start the day? These are all signs of depression.

    • 2

      Think back to when it began. If your depression coincided with the beginning of winter, there may be a seasonal component. Many individuals with seasonal depression are astonished when they discover that their feelings tend to recur at the same time each year.

    • 3

      Keep a journal and be honest about how you feel. It's not unusual for people suffering with this disorder to have moments of optimism within an otherwise unhappy existence. If you notice an unmistakable trend toward depressive feelings, it's time to deal with the problem and get help.

    Seek Help

    • 4

      Ask your doctor for a psych referral, or visit a local clinic.

    • 5

      Speak with an expert about the best way to proceed. You may get different treatments depending on the severity of your depression, your family history and a host of other factors.

    • 6

      Follow that advice! Some people find that a temporary course of anti-depressants such as Prozac or Celexa alleviates the symptoms; others combat it with exercise and still others find that daily exposure to full-spectrum light can make a significant difference.

    • 7

      Check back in with your treatment professional regularly to ensure that improvement is consistent.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be wary of mistaking clinical depression for seasonal depression. The first is distinguished by its persistence in the face of all life changes, up to and including moving to a sunnier part of the world. Clinical depression should be addressed aggressively as early as possible.
  • Bear in mind that depression is not a life sentence. Although it can be difficult to find the motivation to deal with this problem, often individuals are grateful they did.
  • Do not depend on herbal remedies alone if they aren't supported by sound clinical evidence.
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