Coping strategies for seasonal depression

Kristin Gooding, Editor in chief

There’s a certain shift in the weather in November. The days get shorter. It gets colder, and you may start to feel more sad. This feeling of sadness during the holidays comes from seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as seasonal depression. 

Seasonal depression is a recurrent feeling of depression occurring during the same time every year, most commonly winter. To be diagnosed with seasonal depression, one must have had major depression coinciding with the same season for two years.

According to “Psychology Today,” seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans.

Besides medication, there are ways to learn how to cope with seasonal depression.

The first tip to coping with seasonal depression is to stay active. You don’t have to train like an Olympic athlete. You can go on a walk or do some yoga. It doesn’t matter what you do to exercise as long as you’re staying active.

“Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals,” GISD Responsive Services Counselor Rhonda Johnson said. “In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.”

Another easy way to cope is to create healthy eating habits. Healthy eating habits don’t always mean a diet. It can also mean eating healthier food and stopping yourself from overeating. So instead of having a cookie for a snack, grab an apple. 

“Certain foods are known to improve your mood,” Johnson said. “Therefore if you are struggling with SAD try to incorporate these foods into your diet.”  Leafy greens, fatty fish, whole grains, lean protein and yogurt with active cultures are some of the foods Johnson recommended.

A final way to cope with seasonal depression is to make sure you don’t isolate yourself. It’s easy to find yourself not wanting to go places or do anything, but you need to push yourself into hanging out with a friend or two. You could also ask a friend to hold you accountable to other coping methods like staying active and eating healthy.

“Let someone know you are struggling with seasonal depression and allow them to check in with you,” Johnson said. “Getting involved with groups at school such as Sachse’s Peer 2 Peer group or activities outside school are also helpful. Having a friend or accountability partner is also a great help.”