Seasonal depression tips

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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"RG"-advice: Six reliable ways to protect yourself from seasonal depression

How to deal with it? Where does just a bad mood that you can deal with on your own end, and really serious violations begin when you should seek help from a doctor? Professor, head of the department of the Federal Medical Research Center for Psychiatry and Narcology named after A.I. V.P. Serbian Alexei Bobrov.

Those changes in mood, which are noted by many today, it turns out that this is only the beginning of seasonal difficulties. “Strictly speaking, the time has not yet come for autumn or seasonal depression,” says professor, psychotherapist Alexei Bobrov. “It will come a little later, closer to November, when daylight hours approach the minimum. Because those neurohormonal changes in our body, with which we associate such a state with, are connected precisely with the shortening of daylight hours.But after all, not only the length of the day affects our psyche.We all face external negative factors: we experience personal and social problems, receive negative information, experience stressful situations.Someone it is easier to cope with this, someone is harder. And the fact that we live in a not very favorable climatic zone, of course, is an additional risk factor."

How to cope? It is not at all necessary to “whip up” the mood, especially by using such dubious means as large doses of alcohol. When things get tough, you need to allow yourself to relax and unwind. In moderation, of course.

Here are some simple tips from Dr. Bobrov.

1. Care must be taken to increase the feeling of joy. Remember what you like, what you enjoy. But, of course, the actions must be reasonable. Many, for example, begin to "seize" a bad mood, leaning on sweets. This is a dead end path. For a short time, the mood improves, carbohydrates give a quick burst of energy, but this does not last long, and the body begins to demand a new dose of sweet "dope". As a result, we only gain excess weight, and this becomes an additional reason for frustration.

2. The easiest and most effective way is to communicate with pleasant and optimistic people. No need to lock yourself up, hide, withdraw into yourself: spend as much time as possible with friends, come up with common activities and entertainment. If you do something interesting that brings pleasure and satisfaction, your mood will improve.

3. Moderate sport is an excellent remedy for autumn depression. It is not necessary to go to the gym and pull iron. Long walks in the fresh air, swimming in the pool, badminton, volleyball, cycling, rollerblading, aerobics and yoga - everyone can choose the activity that gives the greatest pleasure.

4. Organize proper nutrition. Sweets have already been mentioned above - the less harmful sugar, the better. Nutritionists also recommend eating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They help maintain normal levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain - these substances are very important in the fight against depression. The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish (such as mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines), walnuts, and flaxseed and hempseed oils.

Taking vitamins can also help, although, strictly speaking, the effect of their use has not been scientifically proven, and therefore the approach should be individualized, Professor Alexei Bobrov believes.

5. But a proven remedy is to establish a sleep and wakefulness regimen. This means that you need to sleep at least 7-8 hours, go to bed and get up at the same time. When we spend half the night watching TV or in social networks, we not only do not get enough sleep (which in itself is wrong and harmful to the body), we also “knock down” our internal clock. And "filling up" in the morning and on weekends, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to spend extra time in the air during daylight hours. If you didn’t get enough sleep at night and there is an opportunity, you can afford to take a nap during the day, but not in the late afternoon, so as not to aggravate problems with falling asleep, Dr. Bobrov advises.

6. In addition, light therapy helps to cope with low tone and improve mood. There are disputes about what kind of light and what wavelength works best as an antidepressant, says Alexey Bobrov. But in any case, in the dark, you need to illuminate the apartment brighter.

All these "hygienic" measures will help to cope with the autumn blues and adapt to the winter season. But it happens that the negative is aggravated, a person cannot cope with his condition on his own. What are the signs that the condition is serious and you should seek medical attention?

"One of the main signs of a pathological condition is persistent apathy," explains Professor Bobrov. fall asleep for a long time or wakes up in the middle of the night and toils without sleep until morning), and, conversely, excessive drowsiness. Appetite is disturbed - this may be its loss, and, as mentioned above, a tendency to overeat. All these are serious reasons for treatment see a doctor

Don't blame yourself or others for your condition. Depression is treated, there are many ways to help

There is no need to be afraid of talking to a psychotherapist: no one will register you, there will be no "stigma". And the help of a specialist is absolutely necessary if the depression is so deep that suicidal thoughts arise. It is important to understand here: do not blame yourself or others for your condition. Depression is treated. In modern psychotherapy there are many methods and means to help. "

By the way

Light therapy is increasingly used as a natural treatment for autumn-winter depression. Now special lamps are being produced: they are placed at a short distance, about 30-50 cm from the eyes. The duration of the session is 30-40 minutes. There are no contraindications: the only thing is that it is not recommended to use such a device shortly before bedtime, so as not to disturb falling asleep. For a week - 10 days, usually a person's condition becomes better. Another possibility is unusual light alarm clocks. They are programmed the day before for a gradual increase in the intensity of illumination of the "correct" spectrum. Turned on 30 minutes before your expected wake up time, this alarm helps wake you up naturally, and as a result, people feel energized and rested.

What is seasonal depression? | Moscow

Article author: Nazarev Nikolay Vasilievich , narcologist, psychiatrist, sexologist, physiotherapist

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a variant of recurring depression that begins in the fall/winter season. Women aged 18-30 are most susceptible to this condition, but it can occur at any age, even in a child.

How is seasonal depression different from clinical depression?

The difference follows from the name itself - this type of depression occurs in the autumn-winter period, while clinical depression does not depend on the season.

What are the causes of seasonal depression?

There are several of them. Reduced sunlight can lead to a decrease in serotonin, a brain chemical that is responsible for our good mood and emotional stability. Another hormone directly dependent on the amount of sunlight is melatonin. It is produced with the onset of darkness, causing our body to fall asleep. Since there is less light in winter, this hormone can increase in the body, and, as a result, there is a feeling of lethargy and drowsiness.

Why does seasonal depression occur in autumn and winter?

The combination of low levels of serotonin and high levels of melatonin cannot but affect the human biological clock. In people with seasonal depression, the change in circadian rhythms depending on the time of year is not consistent with the seasonal change in daylight hours, which creates difficulties in regulating the functioning of the body.

What are the signs of seasonal depression?

In general, the symptoms of seasonal depression are the same as those of any other depression. This is an oppressed, depressed state, low mood, regardless of external circumstances; decreased or loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure (anhedonia). You may also be concerned about fatigue, decreased performance, and decreased vitality.

Additional symptoms may be completely non-specific: feelings of guilt and worthlessness, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating; desire to be alone, irritability, eating disorders, drowsiness or insomnia.

What should I do to cope with seasonal depression? Recommendations.

There are no unambiguous universal recommendations, because each person is individual. Before visiting a doctor, you can try to walk more, exercise regularly, keep a daily routine, do not “treat” with alcohol and caffeine, eat foods rich in tryptophan (turkey, milk, egg whites, bananas, dried dates, peanuts, sesame, pine nuts ), because tryptophan promotes the formation of serotonin.

Does taking vitamin D and light therapy help?

Yes. Light therapy is an effective adjuvant treatment for depression. Adequate blood levels of vitamin D (40-80 ng/mL) are certainly important as well. In order to understand, you need to take a prophylactic or therapeutic dose of vitamin D - first you need to pass an analysis called the “level of 25-OH-vitamin D”, understand what level is at the moment and then choose an adequate dose.

What can make seasonal depression worse?

First of all, it is stress, bad habits, abuse of alcohol, caffeine. From the non-obvious - diet, unbalanced diet, physical inactivity.

How do you know when to see a doctor for seasonal depression?

At the slightest suspicion of seasonal depression, diagnosis and subsequent treatment should be carried out exclusively by a highly qualified specialist, a psychiatrist, since similar symptoms can appear with more dangerous mental illnesses and some somatic ailments.

Can seasonal depression be prevented?

You can try to prevent. If you adhere to the so-called healthy lifestyle: eat varied and regular meals, walk a lot in the fresh air, observe the daily routine. But all this is difficult to do in the conditions of life in a metropolis.

What to do if you notice that your loved one/friend has seasonal depression?

First of all, you need to understand that depression is a disease, not a weakness of character, and that depression is treatable. The best thing you can do is to advise to go to a specialist. You can offer to go to counseling together if the person is afraid. Separately, I would like to remind parents that depression "all ages are submissive." Moreover, it is in childhood that depression usually manifests itself atypically, and therefore it is especially difficult to identify it. In children, depression is most often manifested by behavioral disorders. Therefore, you need to be attentive to changes in the well-being and behavior of your loved ones.

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