The upshot of Seasonal Affective Disorder – some time in the fall, you will be struck with a depression that won’t lift until some time in the spring. Even better, with bipolar you’re not really out of the woods come spring, because manic or hypomanic episodes can kick in at that point.
<insert dissertation on melatonin, circadian rhythm, serotonin and their effects here>
So what are you supposed to do about it?
The most common suggestions:
1. Light Box/Light Therapy/Dawn Simulators
Last year, my shrink suggested a light box. I bought a ‘desktop’ model. Technically true if I don’t need my desk for anything other than the lamp. The problem with light boxes is that you actually have to get out of bed and sit upright for at least 30 minutes whilst toasting. But wait!!! Maybe a Dawn Simulator would help! These fantastic alarm clocks are designed to naturally ease your way into the day by gradually increasing the amount of light in the room. No jarring buzzers or loud beeping necessary! The only problem with that? Nothing short of prying open my eyelids and shining a spotlight directly into my eyes would be effective.
Fun Fact: The side effects of light therapy can include headache, fatigue, eye strain, irritability, and insomnia.
2. Antidepressants/Meds Compliance
3. Talk with your doctor or therapist
4. Spend time outdoors/Catch some rays
In theory, that’s a great idea. I think about exercising a lot. I’m often told exercise will help ease my depression and improve my overall mood. Serotonin, blah blah blah. It’s pretty challenging getting into a routine, especially on those days when simply getting out of bed is an accomplishment.
6. Take a vacation in a sunny place
Seriously. It was overwhelmingly one of the top 5. Realistically, who has the time or money (once they’ve shelled out for their light box, dawn simulator, meds, therapy sessions and exercise videos)?
Some of my other favorites:
Participate in enjoyable activities. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Laugh. Paint your walls bright colors. Trim the bushes in front of your windows. Open your drapes. Avoid stress. Think happy thoughts. Meditate.
In all seriousness, a lot of these are common sense. They’re the same things those with depression are already attempting to do. Unfortunately SAD adds an extra layer. I haven’t quite figured out my magic formula. For now, video clips of puppies, baby hedgehogs and the awkward recreation of Sia’s Chandelier music video by a slightly overweight, hairy man in a flesh-colored leotard will have to do.