Opinion: Counter Seasonal Affective Disorder with light therapy or physical activity, SUNY Potsdam resident says
To the Editor:
The days are shorter and the nights are longer. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is associated with a change in seasons. The predictable pattern of SAD allows us to take preventative action towards decreasing the severity of the symptoms.Symptoms may include depression, low energy, anxiety, trouble concentrating, weight gain, and oversleeping. Fall/winter – onset SAD is caused by a lack of sunlight exposure. A decrease in hours of sunlight can be a difficult adjustment for our bodies. Feel good chemicals in our bodies such as serotonin can become unbalanced as a result of decreased sun exposure. Serotonin helps regulate mood and motivation, so when there is a decrease in serotonin activity, we can become moody and lose interest in our daily activities.
Light therapy is one of the first treatments used for sad because the positive effects are felt within a few days. Light therapy is meant to imitate sunlight and trick your body into thinking it is receiving actual sunlight. Another upside to receiving light therapy as a treatment for SAD is that there are few side effects such as eye strain and headache, which subside after some time.
But for those of us who want a more accessible treatment for SAD, there are options such as engaging in physical activity including yoga, meditation or even cardio. When we work out, we often feel euphoria as a result of our feel good neurotransmitters increasing production. As you continue to feel euphoria while working out, you are going to feel motivated to repeat that feeling as much as possible, which will eventually increase confidence because working out will improve physical health. The physical and emotional results of engaging in physical activities can help decrease SAD symptoms in the long run.