Falling For Autumn | Dealing With Seasonal Depression | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

04 November, 2014

Falling For Autumn | Dealing With Seasonal Depression

If you're in North America, chances are that you noticed the clocks turning back one hour this past weekend for Daylight Savings Time. (And if you didn't, that's why you were early for work on Monday!) I've always had mixed feelings about "falling back" as it were: On one hand, getting an extra hour of sleep is GLORIOUS, but on the other, falling back = it gets dark earlier and more darkness = more gloomy feelings.

Image source: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you feel more depressed or lethargic than usual in the dark fall/winter months, you're certainly not alone. This is an "official" condition that is aptly named SAD, short for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it affects many people—including me. Today I'll be sharing a few of my tips for shaking the seasonal blues—aside from reminiscing about that extra hour of sleep, of course.

1. Get outside during the daylight hours.

This may be difficult depending on where you live and your work hours, but even just a 15 minute walk on your lunch break can make a world of difference. Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get out the door (especially if it's cold out), so get a friend or coworker to nag you. Before long you will get into the habit and it won't seem like such a burden!

2. Exercise of any kind can make you feel better.
Even if you can't get outside during the day, moving your body around can help you feel less lethargic and "blah". It doesn't necessarily have to be high-impact stuff—even doing something as simple as going bowling can snap you out of a rut.

3. Limit your alcohol consumption.
I love a good glass of wine, but the truth is that alcohol is a depressant and drinking lots and lots of it can make you feel more down after the initial "wheeeeeeee" feelings. If you're out with friends and feel awkward about not drinking, order seltzer water with a lime wedge. It looks enough like a gin and tonic that people won't hound you with "Why aren't you drinking?!" type questions. (Can you tell I've been through this before?)

4. Spend time with other people.
It can be with family, friends, whatever. Sometimes I feel super anti-social and am like "I DON'T WANT TO SEE ANYBODY EVER" but once I'm chatting away, I feel fine and dare I say it—maybe even a bit happier? Social interaction does have some merit after all!

5. Make a point of doing activities outside the home.
This can be a bit tough due to crappy winter weather, but there are "inside" activities you can do that involve leaving your home. For example I really like to go to the movies in the winter—obviously there are thousands of movies I can watch at home thanks to Netflix and whatnot, but the experience of getting ready and being in a room with other people laughing/chatting/etc can really snap me out of a funk.

6. Get some ridiculously bright lights.
There have been a number of studies regarding SAD and "light therapy" as a remedy—I honestly don't know if/how this works on a clinical level, but I do know that sitting in a room full of bright lights makes me feel more optimistic than sitting in a dimly lit space. Look for "full spectrum" light bulbs—these are supposed to emulate daylight.

7. If you feel bad all the time, consider getting professional help.
Some of us experience seasonal depression in the form of "off" days and occasional feelings of gloominess, but if your seasonal depression is getting to the point where you feel hopeless or like you can't do anything all or most of the time, please know that there's nothing wrong with talking to a mental health professional and that it really can help. And "help" doesn't necessarily mean medication—that is just one possible way to alleviate depression. But if this is you, please please PLEASE go talk to someone! It's now easier than ever to find a professional to talk to thanks to online medical booking sites like ZocDoc and Psychology Today. If your insurance doesn't cover mental health visits, look for someone that offers a sliding scale. Many will be willing to work with you on the price.

Do you experience seasonal depression? How do you deal with it?


  1. I was diagnosed with major depression, rather than SAD, but I've noticed that in lighter episodes the things you listed work wonders. It's just a matter of mustering the will to do them! Social interaction only works up to a point for me, and only with one person. Spending longer than ten minutes with anyone other than my mum, no matter how bad or (relatively) easy the episode is, actually deepens my spiral. Going outside is something I should do more, though.

  2. I will say that while social interaction in general makes me feel better, large group settings where you kind of have to shout to be heard definitely do not. A good conversation with one or two people is more what I was thinking, but of course that may not be the case for everyone. But anyway yeah, during the worst of it it can be very hard to muster up the will to get out! And it can be difficult to get people who haven't experienced some form of depression to understand why it can be hard. Hang in there!

  3. Oh, no, yeah, I had a panic attack last time I was in a room with a loud group. My writing group doesn't freak me out too much, 'cause we sit in silence at different tables most of the time, but I can't deal with anything more boisterous than that. I almost envy people who can cope with large groups. One-on-one conversations only, please. Thanks! Winter's my favourite season, but I get why it affects others so negatively. I hope your winter is short and mild, and hopefully you won't have to have the daylight lamps on all the time. Unless you have a planted aquarium, of course. That would make anyone happy, I reckon.

  4. I'm not sure if it's SAD or not, but there have been plenty of days lately where I've been feeling down and anti-social. Also sometimes I'd go home and just feel kind of... empty. These are some great tips! I can relate with the exercise one. Every time I run I always end up feeling a bit lighter and less stressed. Also, cheers to that extra hour of sleep! I didn't even notice it was Daylights Saving Time until Monday since my laptop and phone automatically changes the time.

  5. I definitely think I have a touch of this. I should def make an effort to go outside on my lunch break even if its to run to the store. The only positive thing about this time of year are all the holidays coming up.

  6. Thank you! I wish I had a planted aquarium .. that would be awesome!

  7. I sometimes feel that way when I'm just stressed out, so anything you can do to alleviate stress is probably good! I think most devices automatically change the time now, but I have two phones and one of them DIDN'T change so I kind of had a mini "OMG I'm late!" freakout, lol.

  8. Very true, and that's a good thing to look forward to!

  9. These are all great ways of dealing with SAD (or depression of any kind!). It can be hard to do some of them when feeling crummy (I would know, I've suffered from major depression since I was a teenager with a few periods of "remission"), but behavioral changes can have such an effect on the mood. Social interaction is the hardest thing for me. Since I've stopped working outside the home I've kind of let my friendships fall by the wayside. I keep up with them on social media, but it's certainly not the same as face to face interaction. Thank you for posting this!

  10. Depression affects everyone differently and I find myself finding solace in reading about the illness, how other people cope with it, treatment options, etc. I don't always want to "talk about it" and many times I find it embarrassing and difficult to put my thoughts into words. I want to recommend to you a book series entitled “Healing the Mind and Body” by Dr. Paul Corona (http://drpaulcoronamd.com/). I have been making my way through many different mental health books over the years and this one was recommend by a friend, and it was a very interesting read. Often I find myself overwhelmed with information provided in these kinds of mental health books but Dr. Corona writes in a way that the content can be fully absorbed and understood by an average reader (not difficult medical jargon like many of the others). He covers Seasonal depression amongst many other mental health issue. 1 in 4 people suffer from some sort of mental health issue in the US and I think we can all cope a little better if we use resources such as this to understand the new and emerging treatments available to us. Hope you will give it a read


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