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Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

Determine If You Are S.A.D. With This Picture Test & Learn 9 Ways To Cope If You Are.

The winter is currently upon on us, and I wanted to do a post today about a disorder that affects both me and my husband in a big way.  That disorder is called SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  You might also have heard SAD referred to as "winter depression".  Those who suffer from SAD deal with a change in thoughts, emotions, and behavior during the fall and winter months.  SAD is most pronounced during the winter season and it can be so bad that a person may struggle to continue with their daily activities.

To help you find out if you may suffer from SAD, I have designed a simple picture test.  Based on your responses to the pictures that I show you, you will be able to learn if you have SAD or not.  If you do have SAD, I also list 9 ways that really help me personally cope with SAD during the cold winter months.
Below I am going to show you a series of pictures. If your responses to these pictures are similar to mine, you most likely suffer from seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as winter depression.

I am going to look at the pictures below and tell you exactly what I see:

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

Here is what I see in this picture:  Total depression. Oh. Man.  Two combinations you don't ever want to combine for me - woods and snow.  Doubly depressing in my book.  That person in the white coat is not looking at the beauty of those snow covered woods, oh no!  That person is contemplating whether they can continue living in such a bleak and horrible existence.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

Okay, things are just going from bad to worse here.  In this picture we have a man, completely alone, seemingly drifting around in an infinite amount of snow.  There is nothing more depressing to me than this picture.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

What do I see here?  Well, this looks like one of the trees I see out my window.  When I stand beside my window looking sadly at the dark and terrible existence I see before me, I wonder how on earth I am supposed to leave my house and carry on with the day's activities.  No, there is absolutely nothing beautiful about that tree! It's actually quite frightening to me, terribly so.  I see that tree and I am instantly cutoff from the outside world.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

Oh, ha ha, you are trying to trick me now??  "But look how happy she looks outside in the cold", you say.  Oh no, no thank you, I don't think so.  That poor girl is giving a completely fake smile.  She is most definitely anything but happy in that frozen tundra.  She is freezing out there in those lonely, snow covered woods.  She tried to be optimistic this morning and wear some bright colors, but it failed to prevent the deep sadness and complete sense of abandon she felt as soon as she stepped a foot outside her house.  "Why have you forsaken me, oh sun, why???", she thinks.  Somebody please, get that poor woman out of there, and quick, before we never see her again.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Picture Test And 9 Ways To Cope With SAD

You are really pulling out all the stops now aren't you??  No, there is nothing happy about this picture!  That poor little girl needs to be rescued from those icy conditions as quickly as possible.  She is smiling because it's all too scary to think about right now at her age, but she will have serious trauma from those sledding memories later, just you wait.

And that was the last picture, (thankfully!).  So, as I mentioned above, if your thoughts were similar to mine, unfortunately, I hate to say this, but, you have SAD. 

I will admit that I was being a little melodramatic above, but in all honesty, I would never choose to look at pictures with snow in them; it is truly that depressing for me.  This is actually why I didn't put a snow related picture in my infographic poster up at the top.  If I saw an infographic with a snowy picture in it, I would avoid clicking on it for fear of seeing more depressing snowy pictures.  I know it sounds silly, but it's actually true.

All jokes aside, let me now get more serious and explain just how SAD is a real thing and some real ways you can cope with SAD if you have the disorder.

First, let me start off by saying that yes, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very real.  People are not just imaging that they feel depressed in the fall and winter months - it is a real thing!  What's really cool though is that we now actually have the science to back up seasonal affective disorder.  Let me explain.  
Scientist believe that seasonal affective disorder is caused primarily by diminished day light hours.  Studies have shown that when the days begin to shorten, there are some big changes that take place in the brains of those who suffer from SAD.  They have found that SAD sufferers produce more of a certain type of protein that moves serotonin around.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is one of those "feel good" chemicals.  When your brain has a lot of serotonin hanging out, you are going to feel pretty happy and relaxed.  And when it doesn't, you will start to feel depressed, worried, and anxious.  When SAD sufferers produce more of the protein that shuffles the serotonin around, more of this protein means less serotonin to hang out, which means the SAD sufferer starts to feel unhappy.

Another fascinating discovery is that SAD sufferers seem to produce less tryptophan in the late summer and early fall months.  Tryptophan, an amino acid, is a building block of serotonin.  So not only is there less existing serotonin to go around because of the higher protein levels, there is also now less raw material, the tryptophan, to make new serotonin for the SAD sufferer.  All of this culminates in one very unhappy person.

Vitamin D also plays a role in the depression SAD sufferers feel. Vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin", is a vitamin that is produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.  During the fall and winter months, people will get much less sunlight on their skin, and this can dramatically reduce their Vitamin D levels.  This becomes a big problem because studies have shown that there are some serious health consequences for low Vitamin D levels.  Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to high blood pressure and increased cardiovascular diseases.  Low Vitamin D has also been linked to an increased risk of mental health disorders such as dementia and schizophrenia.  Low Vitamin D is also linked to increased cancer growth. 

As you can see, together, the lack of daylight and sunshine combines to create the perfect storm in someone suffering from SAD.

Now, having said all this, let me share 9 things that I personally do to combat winter depression.
1. Go on a vacation to a warm and sunny place.  

taking vacations helps to cope with seasonal affective disorder

If you can, try to go on a vacation, even a short one, during the very worst months, which are usually January and February.  My husband and I have been taking family vacations to South Florida for a few years now during the worst winter months and it has done so, so much to help us escape our winter blues.  We take short vacations, but even those few short days in the warm sun are enough to send us back to the north completely charged up and ready to get through the rest of the winter.  I actually felt better and happier just looking at that picture above!

2.  Exercise.

exercise helps to cope with seasonal affective disorder

Exercise has always been one of my go-to activities to lift my spirits when I am feeling depressed.  Exercise actually changes your brain chemistry and produces more of those feel good chemicals in your brain.  I am lucky to have a treadmill at my house, so it is easy for me to exercise in the winter months.  If you don't have any exercise equipment, joining a gym may be a great way to go for you.  Not only will the exercise improve your mood, but the change of environment and bright white lights will also do wonders for your brain.

3. Listen to your favorite music.

I love music and always have.  I attended a college in Cleveland, Ohio for two years after I graduated high school.  The winters were the absolute worst and I hard a really hard time.  In order to survive and get myself to walk through the cold snow to my classes, I started listing to music everywhere I went.  Music can really uplift the mood.  Funny side note - I finished my last two years of college at a school in Miami, Florida.  Yes, those Cleveland winters completely traumatized this southern girl!  Definitely not the place to go to college for a SAD sufferer.

4.  Go shopping.

shopping trips help to cope with seasonal affective disorder

Okay, I know this point is more geared towards the ladies, sorry guys.  But what woman doesn't enjoy a shopping trip?  Now, if you are a mom, then I need to add, go shopping without your kids because shopping trips aren't any fun with the kiddos if they are young.  Whenever I have had a really rough couple of weeks indoors during the winter months, I leave my kids with my husband or my mom and I take a solo shopping trip.  Even though I generally don't come home with too much, the bright lights of the mall and the alone time do so much to improve my mood.  Find a good sale or two and you are going to really be feeling awesome!  This is also a great activity to do if you cannot afford to take a vacation, or if work schedules will not allow for one.
5.  Cuddle with your sweetie.

Yes, this may also technically be another one for ladies only since I know my husband, and probably most men, are not the biggest fans of the whole cuddling thing.  But if you can find the time, try to get at least an hour of uninterrupted cuddle time with your significant other.  The secret here is that cuddling will increase those feel good chemicals in your brain we talked about earlier, and that will help you to leave feeling happier and more refreshed.  

6.  Read the Bible.

Reading the bible helps to cope with seasonal affective disorder
God's Word always cheers me up when I am feeling down or depressed about something.  The Book of Psalms is a really great book to read if you are feeling upset.  I always walk away from reading the Bible feeling encouraged and happier.  That is something unique and special about the Holy Bible, it can literally transform your emotions. 

7.  Sit in the sun during rare warm days.

Sitting in the sun helps to cope with seasonal affective disorder

Doesn't that picture just make you happy looking at it? I know, me too!  This point may sound like common sense, but you may be surprised at how many times you find yourself not taking advantage of those few rare warm days that pop up during the winter months.  I honestly believe God throws those beautiful warm days into the wintry mix specifically for SAD sufferers.  I recently had a really warm and sunny 60 degree day pop up in the middle of a really cold stretch.  I changed into a short sleeve shirt and sat directly in the sun on my deck.  When these rare warm days show up, make sure to wear clothing that will allow your skin to absorb those rays and make that awesome Vitamin D.  I felt markedly happier and refreshed after just an hour in the warm sunshine.

8.  Curb the junk food.

avoiding sugar helps to cope with seasonal affective disorder

This point sounds kind of counter-intuitive, because I personally know that when I am feeling cold and depressed during the winter, all I want to eat is sweet and salty stuff. Unfortunately, junk food can actually work to make us feel even worse.  High sugar levels have actually even been shown to cause depression.  So the last thing a depressed SAD sufferer needs is a bunch of sugar to further depress them.  I know it can be hard, but cutting out even one thing will help you.

9.  Get as much sleep as possible.

Even during the summer months, if I'm not getting enough sleep, I will start to feel depressed.  Sleep is heavily linked to mental health, so please try to get enough during the cold winter months.  My husband must somehow instinctively know this, because his bedtime is much earlier in the winter than it is in the summer.  I am not as good as he is at doing this, but I do try to get a little more than normal if I can.

I sincerely hope that these 9 tips will help SAD sufferers everywhere manage the bleak and dreary winter months.  If you enjoyed this post, can I ask you one favor?  Would you please share it so that it can help others too?  And if you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy some of my other mental health related articles, which you can find under my page, Mental Health.  All of my pages are found at the top of my site, just please view in desktop version to see my pages.

And if you liked this post, would you do me a favor?  Would you please share it?  Thank you so much!

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Just a makeup mama who loves to play, and slay, with her makeup.  Learn my beauty secrets and explore my world at: The Makeup Equation

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