How to Cope with Seasonal Depression in an Already Challenging Year?
If you suffer from seasonal depression or worry about your risk factors should you get the coronavirus, this winter could be tougher than usual. The specter of diminished holidays, an increase of unemployment rate, a third wave of the virus and more than 1,570,000 coronavirus deaths add to the mental health risks this winter.
The cooler temperatures and shorter days of fall and winter can bring changes in mood for some people. These changes may take the form of seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a type of depression that occurs during particular seasons and improves as the next season begins. It is linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. Symptoms include depression and fatigue, carbohydrate cravings, increased appetite and weight gain, and withdrawal from other people.
While an estimated 25 percent of people are likely to experience depression in some form during their life, between 0.5 percent and 3 percent are affected by SAD each year. According to experts, quite a few factors play into developing depression, including genetics, other medical conditions and stressful events.
Then, how to cope with seasonal depression in an already challenging year? The National Institute of Mental Health outlines four main categories of treatment for SAD, which can be used individually or together to help someone manage their symptoms:
1. Light therapy. This form of treatment has been around since the 1980s, and the main premise behind it is that increasing your exposure to bright, artificial light during the fall and winter months can ease the symptoms of winter-related SAD. The study found that sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light for 20 to 60 minutes each morning through the fall and winter months will prevent the SAD.
2. Sunshine. If you don’t have time to get outside for some sunlight during the week (because of school or work, for example), schedule outdoor activities on your lunch break at work or on the weekend. On days when it’s sunny, get outside for exercise or even just read near a window.
3. Talk therapy. Known as psychotherapy, talk therapy can help with a wide assortment of mental and emotional health conditions like SAD, depression, anxiety, trauma, etc.
4. Antidepressant medications. This is usually prescribed as the first line of treatment for SAD. Certain antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically used as the first drug of choice for SAD. It’s believed that they may help improve your brain’s serotonin levels, which can boost your mood.
As we all try to cope with the pandemic and learn to live with a “new normal,” taking time to tend to your mental health is more important now than ever. It’s important to know that you’re not alone and help is always available.
1. specter n. （因可能出现困难而产生的）忧虑；恐怖
2. diminished adj. 变小的；变少的
3. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 季节性情绪失调
4. biochemical adj. 生物化学的
5. carbohydrate n. 碳水化合物；糖类或淀粉类食物
6. National Institute of Mental Health 美国国家心理卫生研究所
7. lux n. 勒克斯（照明单位）
8. fluorescent adj. 荧光的
9. psychotherapy n. 心理疗法
10. antidepressant n. 抗抑郁药
11. serotonin n. 血清素