Depression sucks! Plain and simple.
I have Seasonal Depression, also called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short.
People with SAD have many of the normal warning signs of depression, including:
Less energy. Trouble concentrating. Fatigue and physical aches and pains Greater appetite and carb cravings Increased desire to be alone. Greater need for sleep. Weight gain.
I live with depression for 6 months of the year, every year. I feel like I just get on a roll feeling great in the summer and then it’s fall already and the downward shift starts. I can always feel it too, right around the middle week of October.
I wish I could afford to live in a sunny warm place for the winter every year. By the time the end of February comes around I am at my worst for the effects of the depression on me for that year.
This year is certainly not the worst year of depression I’ve had, but it is still debilitating in many ways. I’m tired, in constant joint pain, and have no desire or energy to do much at all. I certainly don’t want to go anywhere!
The amount of snow this year I have to shovel is not helping much let me tell ya! But, it is not nearly as bad as it used to be for me. I am still managing to get dressed every day, and cook for my family, thought the house is not as clean as it gets in the summer. Some years, just the thought of making food choices for supper had me standing in the kitchen in my housecoat, crying unable to move.
I live in a part of the world that gets less sunlight hours in a day from about mid October to mid April. My brain hates that. As soon as the days start getting shorter, I get more tired and sluggish. By the time December rolls around I have no energy or desire to do much of anything and I eat a lot more. Just in time for the holidays, I have to push myself t do much of anything. Putting up the tree and creating a holiday for the kids takes so much effort, I’m exhausted and I just want to sleep.
It sucks having depression for half of the year! It’s like a hibernation of sorts, but most of us cannot afford (timewise) to take a winter hibernation period where we huddle under blankets and just veg out for 5 months. We have kids to take care of, and jobs to do, and a home to take care of.
Life goes on at the same fast pace even though my brain slows down and makes me want to sleep more and binge watch 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix while eating a jar of peanut butter with a spoon.
I have battled seasonal depression for probably my whole life, but didn’t realize it until about 10 years ago. Before I started seeing my current doctor for seasonal depression and ADHD medication management, I was just put on antidepressants and told to “go buy a light” by my then GP Doctor.
Well, that’s all well and good, and there is no doubt it seems to work for a lot of people- But, I could not afford a therapy light and the antidepressants and I did not work well together.
I first tried effexor and it caused a major issue with my thyroid and I had to go off it immediately as I was developing a “tumor like swelling” and had lost 50 pounds in 2 months! The weight loss was welcome at the time, but not the constant sore throat and the possible permanent damage it was doing to my thyroid.
At about that time I switched doctors, because i was diagnoased with ADHD at 30 years old and I tried wellbutrin and almost all my hair fell out!!!!
If I was depressed before, you can imagine what going from a full thick head of hair to a pony tail the thickness of my pinkie finger did for my self esteem! I didn't go anywhere that winter!
My doctor took me off the wellbutrin and suggested putting me on paxil and I tried it for 6 weeks.It did NOTHING for me. So, I just told her a flat out no after that.
I said “I can’t do this anymore. No more Antidepressants, What else can I do?”
She told me there was some things I could do, but most people don’t do them, and just prefer trying the medication until one worked and used light therapy.
Not me! I was tired of the side effects and the trial and constant error and no relief from the depression. So with her recommendations, this was how I began my Seasonal Depression treatment that I do every day from October to April when the daylight and colder weather try to knock me down.
1. Take Vit D3 daily
In the fall and through winter I take 3000ui of Vit D 3. ( in the summer I take 1000uis) I have found that 3000ui is the optimal dose in the winter when I can’t get enough sunlight on my skin to make my own Vit D.
Every person is different, and the recommended dose is usually 1000 ui a day for an adult. But, with my doctors guidance we found that 3000ui a day is where I need to be. I can definitely feel a difference if I forget a few days in a row to take it.
Vitamin D3 is the only vitamin the body can manufacture from sunlight (UVB)
Studies show there is a lag of about eight weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet radiation and the onset of seasonal depression, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D.
Literally there is not enough time in the day in the winter months here, for the sun giving off UVB for my body to absorb as much as I need to not be depressed. So people like me who live in more northern latitudes are more susceptible to seasonal depression when the sun is not up in the sky long enough in the day for us to get out in the sun and absorb the UVB light to make our own Vit D.
Low levels of vitamin D are already linked to many developmental and physical ailments, but researchers are now saying that low Vit D may also be a major contributing factor to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or overall clinical depression in general, and it is caused by a lack of sunlight.
I find it funny that I have been doing this form of therapy under a doctor’s guidance for over 6 years, but the scientific research is only concluding this late last year. It is well documented that Vitamin D is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine within the brain-both chemicals linked to depression. So, without enough Vit D, it is only natural that we would begin to feel depressed, ( Serotonin and Dopamine are also linked to ADHD, so I take Vit D all year round but need more in the winter)
2. Take Vitamin B complex daily
My Doctor told me to take Vit B complex to help with my anxiety. So, I started taking 100mg of Vitamin B complex every day at lunch. I’m not one to just blindly listen to a doctor so I did some research on why Vit B is good for depression and anxiety. Scientific research showed significant and continuous improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms in people who took Vit B complex over those who took the placebo, and Vit B affects our overall health in a positive way, but has a definite interaction with our nervous systems ( the brain).
A vitamin B complex is a dietary supplement that contains all eight of the B vitamins that are found naturally in a number of foods. B vitamins help the body to produce energy and form red blood cells.
Each B vitamin is essential to certain functions:
B1 and B2 are important for healthy functioning of the muscles, nerves, and heart B3 helps regulate the nervous and digestive systems B5 and B12 are required for normal growth and development B6 supports the immune system and aids the body in breaking down protein B7 is involved in the production of hormones B9 helps cells make and maintain DNA
While you can get most of the B vitamins you need in foods, if you can’t afford an extremely healthy diet, a supplement helps.
Being low income,I certainly could not afford a diet rich enough in these things. You can get Vit B from things like green leafy vegetables (a source of B2 and B9), eggs (a source of B7 and B12),chicken (a source of B3, B6, and B12), citrus fruits (a source of B9), nuts (a source of B3 and B9), kidney beans (a source of B1 and B2), bananas (a source of B6 and B7)
3. Do 2 five minute walking videos a day
If you have depression, the LAST thing on your mind is doing exercise. But it is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our overall health and for the depression itself. Exercise releases endorphins and raises dopamine and serotonin in your brain that naturally help lift depression.
Depression is a big fat liar, and it will tell you you don’t have the physical and mental energy to think about doing exercises, but it helps SOOOO much!
Don’t listen to your depression. I do 2 five minute walk videos a day that I have right on my smartphone from Leslie Sansone. They are only 5 minutes, they help the aches and pains I have in my joints, and they wake me up and make me feel better. Leslie is motivational and makes you feel safe in only doing what you can do. This is my go to exercise at home in the winter.
When my Doctor told me to exercise, I didn’t think I could do it. But finding Leslie’s walk videos really made it feel not overwhelming and manageable.
But, even if you put on a fast paced song and dance to it for 3 minutes, that is better than not doing any exercise at all.
I currently love dancing in the kitchen to “Uptown Funk”. I can’t listen to that song and NOT dance! No matter how low I'm feeling
4. Made a "Care for Me" schedule and stuck to it.
When you are depressed and hiding away from life, you don’t care how your hair looks, or count the days it has been since you had a shower or brushed your teeth. Some years ( before I optimized my Vit D dose and exercised every day) I was so depressed, I wouldn’t shower until my husband started complaining I smelled! (not pretty I know!) But, depression lies, and it doesn’t want you to do things to feel human.
So, with my husband’s suggestion, I made a care schedule and stuck it on the bathroom wall for myself. I told myself (and my husband) that I would stick to that schedule NO MATTER WHAT. Some days it took my husband saying “So, you need to shower today according to your schedule remember?” and him lovingly coaxing me to the bathroom and standing there waiting for me to get in the shower for me to do it. I would be in tears dragging myself to the bathroom and climbing into the tub. Sometimes I’d just sit on the floor of the tub and let the shower just fall over me while I cried. It was emotionally painful, and physically painful and I’d cry because I didn’t have the energy to wash my hair.
But, I did it and I (almost) always felt better afterwards. Even if I didn’t feel better, I would still make myself do it and over time it got easier, and at least I didn’t smell anymore! That is always a good thing!
5. Stayed in touch with close friends...even if only via text or fb and Get Out once a week
"Who wants to hang around someone with no energy and who is moping around the house all the time and crying!?" “Not ME!” I’d tell myself, and use that as a way to convince myself to not keep in touch with friends.
“They wouldn’t want to be around you!” My depression would whisper in my ear.
You may feel like you are the worst company when you are depressed and not reach out, but that is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I found my being honest with my close friends about being depressed allowed me to feel more comfortable and less guilty about being low around them and not having the energy to fake a smile. If i didn't have to pretend i was happy, I'd be more likely to call them anyway, and I always felt better after.
Even if you can’t get the energy to get dressed and go out with friends, keep in touch! We have amazing technology now that we can skype a movie together with a friend, facetime or text, fb message and email, or play games back and forth on our smart phones to get out of the isolation depression likes us to be in.
Getting the support you need can be a huge step in the right direction to lifting the hold depression can have on us. On our own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and the effort required to beat depression, and the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out to others. I know this, I’ve been there. Do it anyway.
Isolation and loneliness make depression worse, so maintaining your close relationships and social activities are important. If you feel you have no one you can turn to for social interaction there are so many facebook closed groups where you could be a member and be a little bit anonymous and interact with others. Your friends and family on your FB will not see your posts in closed groups, and they can be a source of great understanding from others going through the same thing you are. I have been a member of Fb groups like this for the last 5 years and they are really helpful. Find one that suits you. If the first one doesn't fit you, try another!
The second part to this is to get out of the house.
Even if it is just to walk to the end of the driveway and back. To go to the grocery store and buy milk and eggs. Just try to get out of the house.
The year I had seasonal depression at it’s worst, ( the year my hair fell out from the wellbutrin)
my husband would push me to get out of my housecoat and go walk to get the mail. I HATED every second of it, and I would cry while getting dressed and I’d cry halfway to the post boxes that were down the block.
I knew it was better for me to do it and it was SO hard to do. But, when I did do it, I had a little more energy afterwards to help make dinner and play with my ( then 3 year old) son.
Since I started doing these 5 things to manage my seasonal depression, it has never been as bad as it was that year.
I would call it moderate to mild depression now. I have no control over what my brain chemistry naturally is, but I have control over how much I let that brain chemistry take over me. Doing things to help my brain chemistry keeps me moving forward allows me to live with depression without taking antidepressants anymore.
Depression of any kind, seasonal or not is not an easy battle. It drains your energy and hope, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. Overcoming it isn’t easy or quick but it is not impossible.
True, you can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you can lessen the effects it has on your life.
The things I tell myself all the time to help are.
“Just keep Swimming”
I remind myself daily “Your track record of making it through is 100% thus far...keep going”
Some days the best I can manage is to make sure everyone is fed and warm, and I have to call it a day. But that’s ok. Some days, calling it a day and saying you’ll try again tomorrow is a win over depression. And, all wins over depression matter.
The key is to start small and build on it. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you are patient with yourself and make small positive choices each day like these five things I now do.
Remember, you are not alone. If you are feeling alone and like no one understands, and are interested, I’ve created a closed group on facebook just to chat and to support you in trying some of these coping techniques to help you with your depression.
This article was written on Feb 27th, 2015 by SuperADDmom and provided for informational purposes only, as a resource for www.superaddmom.com-Copyright 2015.
If you are feeling suicidal, I urge you to connect with your healthcare team and get the important help you need to get you through this tough time
If you live in another part of the world and would like to help me link to websites for suicidal prevention hotlines to help people, please email me the info for your country and I will gladly add it to this article.
sources for medical info in this article were found here: