Veteran Support: 5 Ways to Manage Winter Depression

Depression that is seasonal can strike anyone at any time. Some feel it in spring while others are inexplicably down during summer, but most people who struggle with seasonal depression experience their symptoms during the winter months.

Called seasonal affective disorder, the problem is most prevalent in the areas of the country that experience the coldest temperatures and days that are short and dark.

If it is a problem for you, there are things you can do to ease your symptoms and possibly prevent it altogether.

  1. Talk to a therapist. If your symptoms are around all year but worsen during the winter months, it may be the case that your true issue is an underlying mental health disorder. Bipolar disorder, severe depression, anxiety, or another disorder may be the true issue driving your symptoms. Talking to a psychologist about what you are feeling and other challenges you are facing can help you to better understand the cause.
  2. Consider medication. Antidepressants can be helpful for a time, especially if your symptoms only last for a few months. They can help you to stabilize and get through the hard times until things begin to ease up or until you learn new coping mechanisms to help you manage your depression.
  3. Go outside. Even if it is cold and the sun is not that strong, getting outside in natural light can help you to feel better if you are struggling with seasonal affective disorder.
  4. Light therapy. If you cannot get enough of your vitamin D from the sun, it may help you to undergo light therapy. By regularly exposing yourself to full spectrum bright light, you can mimic the sun’s positive effects on your mood and get through the winter months more easily.
  5. Prioritize self-care. Even if it is hard, make some small changes to care for yourself. This means getting good sleep at night by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. It means eating healthfully by consuming lots of different fruits and vegetables; frozen options will give you the same benefits as fresh produce during the winter months. Get your flu shot to avoid getting horribly ill, and go see a doctor if you end up catching a cold. Get regular exercise to boost your mood naturally and help you to sleep better.

AAC’s First Responder Lifeline Program

If you find that all your best efforts do little to improve your mood, consider seeking more intensive treatment. At American Addiction Centers, we offer a comprehensive treatment program for active duty military and retired veterans who are struggling with mental health disorders like depression and/or substance use and abuse. Learn more about how we can help you to overcome mental health symptoms that are disrupting your ability to live a balanced life. Call now and ask about our First Responder Lifeline Program to find out how we can help you to begin the healing process.