How Do I Handle Colorado Seasonal Affective Disorder? | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog



Coping with Seasonal Depression During Winter

The shorter, darker, and colder days of winter can – at times – impact your feelings, even in sunny Colorado. have you feeling blue, you might be wondering if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal depression can be frustrating, but these tips will help you understand what you can do to feel better.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. To be diagnosed with SAD, someone must meet the criteria for major depression, and the symptoms must correspond with specific seasons (like winter) for at least 2 years.

Some of those symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Having low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Social withdrawal and a desire to “hibernate”

However, even without an official clinical diagnosis, many people feel downright blue during winter and can relate to the above symptoms.

Ways To Cope With SAD

Every person will have a different arsenal of coping mechanisms, but it’s important to have some strategies you can use to get yourself out of a winter funk. Here are clinically-proven solutions to try:

  • Light therapy is used to replace “lost” sunshine with daily exposure to light from a light box. Getting outside and into natural sunlight can also be a massive mood-booster, so aim to spend some time outside every single day… even if it’s cold.
  • Medication is sometimes needed for severe seasonal affective disorder. Your doctor might recommend Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which can dramatically reduce symptoms, especially when combined with light therapy and psychotherapy.
  • Psychotherapy will help you understand why winter derails your well-being, while teaching you tools to cope with the feelings and frustrations of the season.
  • Vitamin D supplements are also effective for some people, though more research is needed. Regardless, adding Vitamin D to your supplement stack could be beneficial.

Additional Tips For Coping With Seasonal Depression

There are also a number of lifestyle choices that you can make to lesson the effects of SAD. Here are a few to try:

  • Stock your pantry with healthy, nutritious foods that make your body feel good. These 7 Pantry Essentials For Easy Winter Meals are great to have on hand, and they make eating healthy a lot easier.
  • Plan a winter getaway to escape the Colorado cold. You could find an affordable flight to someplace warm out of Grand Junction or Denver, visit one of your favorite hot springs, or take a road trip south. Having a trip to look forward to never hurts, either.
  • Try a new sport or activity, like fat tire biking or a new fitness class. Exercise is an excellent mood enhancer, and you might discover a new hobby.