Help for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Updated: Sep 29
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, can be difficult to live with. It pops up during the winter months in the Portland, Oregon area. The skies can be gloomy and gray well into the spring. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can leave people feeling depressed. At least until the sun begins to creep back out in the spring.
But there are helpful steps that people can take to lessen the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here are a few tips:
Tip #1 to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder — Light therapy:
What do people do when they do not get enough sunlight where they live? They create artificial sunlight!
Also known as a “Happy Light,” light therapy produces
Light therapy provides many of the same for 20 or more minutes a day. If you practice this, as well as a few other helpful coping tools, you may notice an improved mood and happier life to follow.
Tip #2 to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder — Spending Time Outside:
As I am typing this, there is rain in the forecast throughout Tualatin and Lake Oswego for the next 24 hours. It’s cold. It’s dreary. And no one wants to go outside.
Do it anyway.
Even if it is to simply get a breath of fresh air, going outside can have a dramatic impact on how your mood. Go for a walk whenever there is a break in the rain. And if it is sunny outside, get out there and play. Just bundle up first.
Getting outside can reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Take advantage of it whenever you can.
Tip #3 to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder — Regular Exercise:
Exercise gets the “feel good” hormones going through your body. With that being the case, getting in 20-30 minutes of exercise is valuable. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but it should be enough to get your heart beating a little faster.
The goal isn’t to burn the calories (though if that is a goal, go for it). It is to do what you can to get rid of some cortisol, and get some endorphins coursing through you.
Tip #4 to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder — Volunteer:
Getting involved in the community can impact the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Depression often has a way of making people withdraw or feel isolated.
Volunteering in a cause that interests you will provide opportunities to interact with others. It can be a meaningful way to get involved in the community.
Plus, you have the added bonus of doing something to help others. An extra, extra bonus is volunteering actually has a way of making you feel and live a more thankful life.
Tip # 5 to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder — Find a Counselor:
Again, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression. And people often will withdraw or isolate while feeling depressed. Finding a counselor to help you work through some of emotions of loneliness or gloominess can be helpful in getting you to where you are hoping to go.
I know it may feel embarrassing or create anxiety when thinking about seeking help. You might say to yourself, “It’s not a big deal. I can push through."
Once you get help, however, you’ll likely be wondering why you waited so long.
You don’t have to go through the journey alone.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can hit like a ton of bricks during the months of January and February. Depending on the weather in suburbs of Portland, Oregon, it can linger into the months of March and April. Taking a few steps can help you fight the effects of SAD until the weather starts turning and the sunlight blissfully returns.
Jason Wilkinson is the owner of Wellspace Counseling, a mental health practice located in Tualatin, Oregon. He specializes in helping individuals and marriages looking for emotional and mental wellness.