Picking Yourself Up Again When You’re Feeling More Than Just Down and Out
If you have been feeling down and depressed, know that you are not alone. Nearly 18 percent of Americans have reported issues with mood and/or depression at some point in their lives. For some, depression can lead to more severe outcomes like suicide. Mental health is becoming a more prevalent issue in our society, and you should feel comfortable talking about your own emotional well-being. At times, however, it may be hard to not feel out of place and out of touch. When you start feeling low, it may be time to start asking some questions.
Why Do I Feel Worse in the Winter?
Do the long winter nights make you feel alone and depressed? You may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD impacts the lives of many people, and the effects can be debilitating. You may feel lethargic and anxious and just generally worse than usual. These feelings are often brought on by shorter days and less exposure to natural light. While UV rays are harmful, sunlight helps set your body’s natural clock and can enhance mood. The lack of light in the winter or during cloudy weather can throw off this balance.
How Can I Feel Better?
The good news is that SAD is manageable with proper treatment, and there are ways you can treat SAD at home. The use of light therapy and SAD lamps can be beneficial to help with the lack of natural light in the winter months. These lights can help stimulate your body’s natural rhythm and help you adjust to the shorter days. Some studies also suggest house plants to uplift your spirits during the winter. Certain plants can help boost your mood while also boosting oxygen in your home. Adding mood-enhancing colors can also help.
If your SAD is severe, you may need additional treatment to start feeling like yourself again. Antidepressants can help to balance your mood and treat the depressive symptoms you are experiencing. Talk to your health care provider or a licensed therapist about your symptoms to determine if antidepressants or other medications are right for you.
What Else Can I Do?
Managing your mood may take more than light therapy and medications. You also need to take care of yourself. Be sure to eat a healthy diet and try to get as much exercise as you can, even when you can’t make it outside. Exercise is a natural mood-booster and can help you feel healthier all around.
For many people, taking a trip to someplace they’ve never been before, or heading to a destination they’re very familiar with, can help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. For example, many people who live in cooler climates often take a trip to someplace sunny like Los Angeles to help them escape gloomy weather. In addition to the many iconic places in the area, people who visit LA can head to Venice Beach or take a hike through the area’s many hills. What’s more, you can use sites like Turnkey to help you find vacation rental properties that can help you feel more relaxed and at home than a traditional hotel. Regardless of where you can, make sure it’s a place you thoroughly enjoy.
It’s also important to manage stress in your life. Try keeping a journal as a safe place to share your feelings, while also managing your moods from day to day. Practice meditation and contemplative breathing and perhaps start practicing yoga. Taking time for self-care is an important step in achieving overall well-being and can help improve mental health as well.
When Is It Time to Seek Help?
If you’ve tried everything above and more and still feel depressed, it may be time to get help. Get a referral to a licensed mental health professional, who can help guide you through your feelings while offering solid treatment plans. Once again, this may include medications, so be sure to take those as instructed and alert your doctor to any side effects.
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, it is time to seek immediate help. If you are concerned for a loved one who may be feeling the same, know the warning signs for suicide and get him or her help immediately as well. Signs can be as subtle as isolating oneself from friends or family or giving away personal belongings. If you spot any of these signs in yourself or others, it’s vital that you get help right away.
Depression and seasonal affective disorder can hurt, but with the right treatment, you can feel happier again. So, find ways to keep your mind and body healthy, especially during the long winter months, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you simply cannot take it anymore and you’re having thoughts of harming yourself. By doing so, you can secure happiness and maybe even save a life in the process.
*** Written by Rufus Carter for Meridian Counseling. RecoveringWorks.com