Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by Gail Erlandson, M.A.Does your mood change with the seasons? Does the gloomy There are a variety of mind-body therapies that can provide relieffog of Sacramento coincide with gloomy thoughts and low en- from depression symptoms. I benefit from Gentle Yoga, some peo-ergy? ple really enjoy Massage, some folks find help through Meditation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Self-Help Groups of many varie-There are two types of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) to ties can be very beneficial to lifting our mood.be aware of: fall/winter onset S.A.D. and spring/summer onsetS.A.D. The fall/winter type, sometimes known as “winter de- Groups that provide creative outlets in the arts are valuable to stay-pression,” is the most common. ing well when days are short or dim. Writing, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, poetry, and the performing arts are all possibili-The reduced level of sunlight in the winter can disrupt our body’s ties.internal clock. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin Visit Chic for Change, a Community Thrift Boutique at 2633 Elthat may cause depression. The loss of light can also disrupt the Camino Ave. in Sacramento that offers open mic for the Arts on thebalance of the natural hormone melatonin, which aids with sleep st 1 and 3rd Wed. of the month from 6 – 8 p.m. Enjoy the compan-and stability of mood. ionship of fellow artists and the opportunity to share a song, poem , or whatever creative, artistic expression you desire. Finding aWinter-onset seasonal affective disorder symptoms may include: venue for our creative energy is healing and fun and can get us outfeelings of hopelessness, social withdrawal, weight gain, over- of our winter funk.sleeping, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and sometimes thecraving of foods high in carbohydrates. Some people try exposure to artificial light as a method of treating S.A.D. The process involves sitting or working near a “light ther-It is normal to have some days when we feel the winter blues, apy box.” There may be some mild side effects, it is important tobut if we are experiencing some of the above symptoms for an talk to a medical professional before starting light therapy. Re-extended time, if we feel low and lethargic for three or more member, tanning beds are not a form of light therapy. It is alsoweeks, if we aren’t enjoying the activities that we typically enjoy, important to remember to select a light therapy box that emits aswe may need to see a professional. If we are turning to alcohol little UV light as possible. Visit www.sltbr.org, produced by theor drugs to cope, it is especially important to see a doctor. society for light therapy, to find an interesting discussion on theSeasonal affective disorder is more common among folks who benefits of light therapy and the range of options.live far north or south of the equator. This is due to short days If symptoms are severe, some people with S.A.D benefit from anti-during the winter and long days in the summer months that dis- depressant medication. It is best to consult your psychiatrist for anrupt the biological clock. Here in Sacramento, we also have our explanation of such options. There are several herbal remediesshare of foggy, dark days. you may want to consider, but consult your doctor on these toTreatment for S.A.D. winter depression, is varied and can in- make sure they don’t interfere with any other medications.clude: psychotherapy, group therapy, light therapy and/or medi- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements found in fish oil may help. Ac-cation Here are some practical suggestions to keep us healthy: cording to the Mayo Clinic website, “Omega-3 fatty acid supple- ments may help relieve depression symptoms and have other*Experience the Outdoors: Even on cloudy, foggy days, out- health benefits.” Omega-3s are found in certain nuts and grains.door natural light does make a big difference. Take a walk in a Personally, I eat a sardine sandwich for my omega-3s ---- on ryepark, walk your dog, sit outside on a bench for lunch, meet a with onion, leaf lettuce and good mustard. (My Scandinavian heri-friend and walk, go to the river and walk, or walk before break- tage is showing).fast. If you are in an office, step outside for your morning andafternoon breaks. There are many possibilities for us to say Making a conscious effort to take good care of ourselves is key tohello to the Sun, even if it is hidden. Take an umbrella if it is mental health maintenance. It takes personal willingness and par-raining. Please, no excuses. During persistent spans of valley ticipation. Let’s keep in the light and our thoughts clear!fog, take a trip up to apple hill or other foothill destination tosearch out some sun. * Create a Light-Filled Environment: For further reading see: www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-open your drapes,open the blinds, trim tree branches that block affective-disordersunlight. Place yourself near windows and light when sitting. Gail Erlandson has a Master of Arts Degree* Get Regular Exercise: There is strong evidence that exercise in Pastoral Ministrychanges our brain chemistry and helps us feel better. Try exer- from the University ofcising with a friend. Try something new like Tai Chi or Gentle San Francisco and aYoga. Have you ever Cross Country Skied? All you need to Bachelor of Arts De-know is how to walk and you can cross-country ski. gree from the Univer-Try Zumba for $3 at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oak sity of Portland in Inter-Park (very fun), go swimming at your local YMCA, visit a gym, or disciplinary Studies.take a hike at one of our local nature preserves. So you get mydrift? There are endless options to naturally elevate our sero- Gail taught at Lorettotonin. High School for eleven* Connect with People who are Kind: Isolation can fuel de- years and has servedpression. Find people in your life who help you feel good about on staff at Loaves andyourself and life. Invite a friend to tea or find a group that you Fishes. Gail is a men-enjoy. There are many therapeutic groups in the community to tor at the Wellness andexplore, some at no cost. Try the Art of Happiness group at the Recovery Center NorthWellness and Recovery Center North and find ways to work withyour thoughts to stay healthy.