We are moving into winter, and daylight savings time has come and gone. If you are sensitive to light, you may well be having less energy, have a low mood, trouble with mental acuity, and many other symptoms of depression. If you realize that this is true for you every fall and winter, you most likely have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Although some people find they feel worse in the summer and need to wear sun glasses, most of us effected by light changes and shorter days experience it more in fall and winter. Some of the symptoms that are easily noticed in our selves are craving carbohydrates and not wanting to be social.
The good news is that this is all pretty easy to fix: use a light box. Figure out a routine in your daily life so that you can be in front of a light box for whatever period of time you need. You can be working at a desk or walking on a treadmill; there are different sizes of light boxes that suit all these activities. There are even light box visors that allow you to move around doing whatever you like while you get your light.
Your medical doctor or a psychotherapist can put you in touch with reputable companies that sell light boxes. Learn how they work and get started. Most people get results in 1 to 3 days. Good Luck!
You are justified in your concerns about “putting strong drugs in my body,” as many of my clients put it. How do you decide if it is the right thing to do?
It depends on how severe the depression, anxiety or bi polar symptoms are; how much it is effecting your life. Some people with mild to moderate symptoms are sure they are not being effected enough to warrant the use of psychotropic drugs. Other people can get a clearer perspective by talking with the people they are close to and spend a lot of time with. The people who live around you can often see changes in you that, subjectively, you can’t see but can recognize when they are pointed out.
Let’s say that your mood problem is effecting your life enough that you want to do something for relief. You can try the medication, see how helps, and then decide whether or not to stay on it. You can also try holistic methods, like daily aerobic exercise (for depression), acupuncture or homeopathy. I’ve had clients stop therapy because one of these methods improved their life so much they didn’t need it any more.
Of course there are people who stay on a maintenance dose of medication to keep their lives worth living. Many have told me they are glad the medicine exists, knowing that generations back people just suffered.
I strongly recommend seeing a professional if you think you have one of these mood problems. Good therapists can often determine if the kind of problem you are struggling with will respond to medication or holistic help. You don’t need to suffer, or function at a lower level than you can. Take hold of your life, it belongs to you. Make it good.
Question: My therapist says I have depression, and I guess I do, but he wants me to try antidepressants and I don’t want to use medication. What can I do?
It would be important to know how severe your depression is to make specific suggestions. You may be interested in a brief Self Evaluation for Depression or information about Types of Depression. Depression can be very serious and should be treated. Successful treatment can be life-altering even for mild to moderate depression. Fortunately, if you want to avoid the use of medication there are some options, but what will works depends a great deal on how severe your depression is.