Feeling a little off and like you may be in a funk? Are you less motivated and lacking energy? You may have Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern, which you may have heard called seasonal depression. It’s a type of depression that starts in the fall and lasts throughout the winter months and is sometimes referred to as winter depression.
No one wants to feel sad during the holidays. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Learn more about how you can beat it.
Common MDD Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of MDD with seasonal pattern include oversleeping, appetite changes like cravings for carb-rich foods, weight gain, and tiredness or low energy.
So what causes it? There are several specific factors at play. First, the reduced level of sunlight during the fall and winter is known to trigger seasonal depression. This is because changes in daylight can affect your body’s internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm and can lead to feelings of depression. The lack of sunlight can also cause a drop in serotonin (aka your ‘happy’ chemical) and mess with the body’s melatonin levels too, which regulates ‘circadian rhythm’ such as one’s sleep cycle.
Those with a family history of MDD with seasonal pattern or who live far from the equator and have long period of limited daylight exposure (like in Alaska), have low vitamin D, and have major depression are at an increased risk. It affects women more than men.
How To Overcome MDD
As MDD is a chronic, relapsing illness, the clinical goal is not to cure, rather, to treat the illness episode into remission'. Subsequent to that, the goal is maintain remission. There are a few things you can try to manage symptoms. First, you should always consult with your doctor before beginning any treatment options. But one of the most popular options to manage symptoms is to use a light box that mimics outdoor light.
The light box should provide exposure of 10,000 lux of light and produce as little UV as possible. They’re best used in the morning after waking for 20 to 30 minutes. Place the light box between 16 to 24 inches from your face and keep your eyes open, just don’t look directly into the light.
Psychotherapy and antidepressants may also offer relief. In addition to the treatments above, it is also beneficial for people suffering from MDD to make small environmental changes, and take care of themselves and perform positive, mood-elevating activities such as:
- Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds and curtains and cut back tree branches that block sunlight into your home.
- Go outside. Take a long walk, walk your dog, or simply sit outside and enjoy some fresh air. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within a short time of getting up in the morning.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase MDD symptoms.
Babylon Can Help
At Babylon, we offer integrated behavioral health services for depression and anxiety in Babylon 360 markets, providing easy to access mental health appointments within less than five days of outreach, and have already seen more than a 50% reduction in depression and anxiety burdens as measured by industry standard rating scales, which is a leading indicator for an overall reduction in claims spending across both medical and behavioral health costs.
Treatment can help those who suffer from MDD with seasonal pattern overcome their symptoms and return to normal life. To get in touch and schedule an appointment, visit: https://www.babylonhealth.com/en-us/what-we-offer/talk-to-a-doctor