Preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of recurrent depression with a seasonal pattern that is most common in the winter months when shorter days and colder temperatures force many people inside, away from natural sunlight. It's estimated to impact nearly 15 million Americans every year, with the highest rates in the northern-most parts of the country.
While talking with a mental health professional is the best way to assist you in developing a treatment plan, there are some simple but effective things you can do to prevent SAD.
- Be active. In addition to improving your overall health and fitness and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases, studies show that regular exercise can also help improve mood.
- Eat healthy. Instead of sugary, processed foods - reach for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grain foods.
- Find sun. Whenever possible, try to spend some time in natural sunlight. Going for a 20-minute walk early in the morning when natural light is brightest can be especially beneficial.
- Stay connected. Having a strong "real-life" social network builds resilience, our natural ability to bounce back in the face of adversity.
- Get rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per day.