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Every winter, millions of Americans feel fatigue, boredom, and sadness settle in as the days grow shorter. This feeling is known as seasonal depression (sometimes also called seasonal affective disorder). Even though this type of depression tends to be temporary, it can still significantly impair one’s ability to enjoy the holiday season.

Not everyone experiences symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, and those who do may experience different symptoms than others. But regardless of how you or a loved one feels, it’s important to understand that seasonal depression is a clinically recognized health issue that may require treatment. Let’s take a look at common symptoms of seasonal depression and treatments your doctor may recommend.

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Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Overcoming Seasonal Depression for the Holidays, Main Street Medical Clinic, Houston

The symptoms of seasonal depression are similar to clinical depression: little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy, having no energy, oversleeping, difficulty concentrating and feeling hopeless. The list of symptoms continues, but not everyone may experience seasonal affective disorder in the exact same way.

Pro Tip: Depression affects millions of Americans during the holiday season. If you feel the stress of the holidays is more than just stress, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional.

Common Treatments

Always seek professional help first and foremost if you do feel you’re being affected by seasonal depression. A doctor will recommend medical testing to rule out any thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies. Then they can prescribe antidepressants and schedule a counseling session for you. Therapy is hard for some people to get into, but talking to someone does wonders for your mental health. 

Other ways to self-treat your mood are to stay healthy by exercising regularly, getting enough sunlight, eating whole foods and drinking enough water throughout the day. Staying physically healthy through preventive care helps you to stay mentally healthy as well. These methods don’t substitute for professional help with depression. 

Observe Your Behavior

Your doctor will want to make sure this isn’t a sign of long-term clinical depression. After testing and treatment, stay in touch with your doctor to follow up and let them know if the medication is working or if you are getting anything out of therapy. Observe your behavior and let your providers know of any drastic changes in mood. 

Take Care of Yourself

Mental health already has an unfortunate stigma attached to it. If a doctor confirms your suspicions that you’re experiencing seasonal depression, you may feel tempted to try to “tough it out” and focus on more pressing matters than your mental health. But the truth is that your mental health drastically influences the rest of your behavior and your relationships with others. This holiday season, take the time to care for yourself. Whether you ultimately need medical treatment or just changed behavior, you’ll be grateful you put some effort into your mental health.

Connect with us to learn more about mental health treatments and overcoming holiday depression.