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Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by Gail Erlandson, M.A.

Does your mood change with the seasons? Does the gloomy There are a variety of mind-body therapies that can provide relief fog of Sacramento coincide with gloomy thoughts and low en- from depression symptoms. I benefit from Gentle Yoga, some peoergy? ple really enjoy Massage, some folks find help through Meditation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Self-Help Groups of many varieThere are two types of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) to ties can be very beneficial to lifting our mood. be aware of: fall/winter onset S.A.D. and spring/summer onset S.A.D. The fall/winter type, sometimes known as winter de- Groups that provide creative outlets in the arts are valuable to staypression, is the most common. ing well when days are short or dim. Writing, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, poetry, and the performing arts are all possibiliThe reduced level of sunlight in the winter can disrupt our bodys ties. internal clock. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin Visit Chic for Change, a Community Thrift Boutique at 2633 El that may cause depression. The loss of light can also disrupt the Camino Ave. in Sacramento that offers open mic for the Arts on the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which aids with sleep st 1 and 3rd Wed. of the month from 6 8 p.m. Enjoy the companand stability of mood. ionship of fellow artists and the opportunity to share a song, poem , or whatever creative, artistic expression you desire. Finding a Winter-onset seasonal affective disorder symptoms may include: venue for our creative energy is healing and fun and can get us out feelings of hopelessness, social withdrawal, weight gain, overof our winter funk. sleeping, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and sometimes the Some people try exposure to artificial light as a method of treating craving of foods high in carbohydrates. S.A.D. The process involves sitting or working near a light therIt is normal to have some days when we feel the winter blues, apy box. There may be some mild side effects, it is important to but if we are experiencing some of the above symptoms for an talk to a medical professional before starting light therapy. Reextended time, if we feel low and lethargic for three or more member, tanning beds are not a form of light therapy. It is also weeks, if we arent enjoying the activities that we typically enjoy, important to remember to select a light therapy box that emits as we may need to see a professional. If we are turning to alcohol little UV light as possible. Visit www.sltbr.org, produced by the society for light therapy, to find an interesting discussion on the or drugs to cope, it is especially important to see a doctor. Seasonal affective disorder is more common among folks who benefits of light therapy and the range of options. live far north or south of the equator. This is due to short days If symptoms are severe, some people with S.A.D benefit from antiduring the winter and long days in the summer months that dis- depressant medication. It is best to consult your psychiatrist for an rupt the biological clock. Here in Sacramento, we also have our explanation of such options. There are several herbal remedies share of foggy, dark days. you may want to consider, but consult your doctor on these to Treatment for S.A.D. winter depression, is varied and can in- make sure they dont interfere with any other medications. clude: psychotherapy, group therapy, light therapy and/or medi- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements found in fish oil may help. Accation Here are some practical suggestions to keep us healthy: cording to the Mayo Clinic website, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help relieve depression symptoms and have other *Experience the Outdoors: Even on cloudy, foggy days, outhealth benefits. Omega-3s are found in certain nuts and grains. door natural light does make a big difference. Take a walk in a Personally, I eat a sardine sandwich for my omega-3s ---- on rye park, walk your dog, sit outside on a bench for lunch, meet a with onion, leaf lettuce and good mustard. (My Scandinavian herifriend and walk, go to the river and walk, or walk before breaktage is showing). fast. If you are in an office, step outside for your morning and afternoon breaks. There are many possibilities for us to say Making a conscious effort to take good care of ourselves is key to hello to the Sun, even if it is hidden. Take an umbrella if it is mental health maintenance. It takes personal willingness and parraining. Please, no excuses. During persistent spans of valley ticipation. Lets keep in the light and our thoughts clear! fog, take a trip up to apple hill or other foothill destination to search out some sun. * Create a Light-Filled Environment: For further reading see: www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonalopen your drapes,open the blinds, trim tree branches that block affective-disorder sunlight. Place yourself near windows and light when sitting. Gail Erlandson has a

Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Ministry from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the UniverTry Zumba for $3 at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oak sity of Portland in InterPark (very fun), go swimming at your local YMCA, visit a gym, or disciplinary Studies.
* Get Regular Exercise: There is strong evidence that exercise changes our brain chemistry and helps us feel better. Try exercising with a friend. Try something new like Tai Chi or Gentle Yoga. Have you ever Cross Country Skied? All you need to know is how to walk and you can cross-country ski. take a hike at one of our local nature preserves. So you get my drift? There are endless options to naturally elevate our seroGail taught at Loretto tonin. * Connect with People who are Kind: Isolation can fuel depression. Find people in your life who help you feel good about yourself and life. Invite a friend to tea or find a group that you enjoy. There are many therapeutic groups in the community to explore, some at no cost. Try the Art of Happiness group at the Wellness and Recovery Center North and find ways to work with your thoughts to stay healthy.

High School for eleven years and has served on staff at Loaves and Fishes. Gail is a mentor at the Wellness and Recovery Center North