‘Tis the season for all things autumn – pumpkins, fall foliage, and cooler days and colder nights with fewer daylight hours. It also a time of year where individuals living in the northern United States may notice changes in their mood as the days become shorter. This change in mood is commonly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
As the name implies, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. An estimated 10 million Americans experience SAD during the fall and winter months. Alternatively, approximately 10 percent of individuals experience SAD in reverse with the onset of summer triggering their depressive symptoms. The American Psychological Association suggests these tips for managing SAD:
• Experience as much natural daylight as possible
o Consider light therapy and/or increasing Vitamin D
• Eat healthily
o Consider healthy food choices, try hearty, low-calorie recipes, and foods high in Vitamin D
• Spend time with friends and family
o Consider making a coffee date, working on crafts with a friend, visiting with family to avoid social isolation
• Stay active
o Consider going for a walk or finding an activity that involves leaving the house
• Seek professional help
o Consider talk-therapy and/or talking with your healthcare provider about antidepressant medications
NARIC’s REHABDATA database includes many articles, books, and reports related to seasonal affective disorder. The following NIDILRR-funded projects offer information and resources for individuals with mental illness. The Temple University Collaborative offers information and resources to support meaningful community participation for individuals with mental illness and the RRTC on Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery offers a suite of integrated health and mental health care tools to promote physical health and wellness for adults in mental health recovery.