Autumn is just around the corner and for a lot of us, so is seasonal depression. I know, what a way to start an article.
If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, you know that shorter days, limited sunlight, a dip in the temperatures, and overall feeling of change in the air can leave you feeling more depressed than before.
But what if we can make the changing of seasons mirror how we live our lives?
@dr.kojosarfo We gotta look out for each other as the days get shorter! 📝 #seasonaldepression #depresion #recovery #daylightsavings ♬ Dream smp hate club – v🕸
As someone who experiences SAD nearly every year, I understand how much of a joy-robber it can be. Fall is my favorite season by far, and yet I often spend it on a therapist’s couch or wrapped up in a blanket fort wondering why my mood is so down. And I’m not the only one. Seasonal affective disorder affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with women four times more likely to be diagnosed with it than men.
So, why do the changing seasons often bring us sadness?
The tough truth is you can have seasonal depression every season. While SAD is often associated with the fall and winter seasons, many people feel it in spring and summer as well.
Symptoms of fall and winter SAD include oversleeping, weight gain, craving foods high in carbohydrates, tiredness, and low energy. These symptoms are often the easiest to point at and distinguish as depression. But spring and summer SAD looks like trouble sleeping, poor appetite, weight loss, agitation, anxiety, and increased irritability.
In the end, the changing of seasons and rhythms take our bodies out of their habits and comfort zones. The key to taking advantage of these changes can be difficult but life-changing.
Embrace the Change
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Autumn is all about embracing change. The falling leaves show us how wonderful it is to let go; kids going back to school and moving into an older class prove that it’s okay to grow; and new fruits and vegetables coming into harvest let us know that it’s okay to rest and reap the rewards of our hard work.
While fall, as a transitional season, might make people feel like they’re on shaky ground, the ones who embrace it are often the most joyful in the season.
Stylist notes, “Studies have repeatedly shown us that people who embrace and thrive in changing times are more than just resilient – they’re open-minded, curious, driven, and so much more. Indeed, many have suggested that embracing change is the key to happiness.”
Just like we can’t limit seasonal depression to just one season, we also can’t limit transitional times to just one season. Things change all the time, and it could be beneficial to embrace the change when you see it come, especially when it’s so beautifully played out in nature, as it is throughout autumn.
In the end, if you want to be happy in life, you have to roll with the punches and embrace changes as they come.
Why Does Change Affect Us So Much?
@katimorton Why is change so hard? #mentalhealth #change #psychology #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner ♬ original sound – Kati Morton, LMFT
I don’t think there are too many people in this world who don’t want stability. It’s not that they’re against growth or adapting to their circumstances, but most people need stability to feel…well, stable.
But when we treat change like a monster under the bed, we can’t take advantage of all it has to teach us and all the ways we can grow from it.
Melissa Gratias, Ph.D. and productivity coach, remarks, “Some people respond to change in a way that’s similar to how they respond to a significant loss — with grief…Their feelings are normal and understandable, but to be resilient and happy, these individuals need to move through grief and toward acceptance.”
Change isn’t easy for the majority of us. It creates growing pains and pushes us outside of the comfort zones we’ve so diligently put up. But it also creates a new space for growth and a new perspective, as long as we embrace it.
How to Learn from Fall
I believe that nature is one of the best teachers of how we ought to deal with life. This autumn, look around and see how your surroundings are adapting to the changing of the seasons.
Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons. But it’s not all perfect. As with everything, fall is a gentle reminder that there are positives and negatives to change. As the leaves are turning colors and falling off a tree, you should also look for things you can shed and discard as you go into this new season.
Gratias tells Psychology Today, “Sure, the leaves die and fall off trees, but they also become mulch for new growth.” Find things that you can shed and change in your life that might make you happier, lighter, and more productive than ever.
Do you feel happier in the autumn? Have you ever dealt with SAD? Comment below!
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