Seasonal Sadness or Seasonal Depression?

With the first snow coming and going, and the first 11-degree morning, I have heard many deep sighs and grumbles about the beginning of our very long (8 month) winter, guilty of this myself as well in all honesty. While the winter is simply annoying to some, for others, winter is a time where one can become clinically depressed. It is very important to differentiate this from just feeling sad or blue. Much like traditional depression, this is not a choice, it is a chemical occurrence where your brain is misbehaving, and the exact cause is unknown. This can also occur during summer as well, though this is less common.

How can I tell if this more than regular ol’ sadness?

  • Feeling down for more than a few hours or a day at a time
  • Feeling uninterested in leaving home or engaging in the things you love to do
  • More nervous/anxious/irritable than usual
  • Sleeping or eating a lot more than normal

What can I do about it?

  • All the Serotonin (happy brain chemical) boosters
    • Exercise- As simple as taking a short walk around the neighborhood or stretching in your living room. Find something that fits into your life, that is manageable.
    • Balanced diet– Don’t give up the things you love when you are sad, eat the chocolate! Also try to eat something small every few hours (especially breakfast, for you non-breakfast eaters). Add some protein, vegetables, fruits, to your carbs and you’re good to go. Now is not the time to diet!
    • Sleep– A solid sleep routine is crucial.
    • Healthy relationships and interaction with others
  • Vacation or Staycation– if you don’t have time off or it is cost prohibitive.
  • Vitamin D-Talk with your doctor about checking your Vitamin D level and adding a Vitamin D supplement, especially in the winter. Being low on Vitamin D can cause a plethora of unwanted physical and emotional side effects.
  • Light therapy- There is some research that shows this can be an effective treatment for seasonal depression.
  • Therapy- If the above-mentioned interventions are not working or you are having increased depression, consider reaching out to a therapist near you. There are excellent therapists that can see you in person, and others who are able to see you online to help you develop coping skills to manage depression. This is often not a lengthy, years long process, but can be rather helpful quickly.
  • Medication- Medication in the form of SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors can help in addition to therapy. Talk to your doctor to see if medication might be right for you.
  • If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), tell someone, reach out.

Welcome to Wayfinder Integrative Solutions!

I want to introduce myself, my practice and my reason for doing what I do. I can think of a lot of ways to describe myself; a daughter, dog mother, friend, partner, small town/dirt road lover, an only child, a helper, a traveler, avid reader. Growing up, when someone would ask what I wanted to be, it was always some form of doctor or surgeon depending upon the day. After making the decision that chemistry was just too much to ask of me, I gave up on that plan. 

I tried on a lot of potential careers from preschool teacher, to singer in Nashville to volunteer in orphanages in far reaches of the world (turns out that one doesn’t pay much). I eventually grew up and became a therapist. I liked being a therapist, but there was still a desire for more, to study further. I came across the Doctor of Behavioral Health program on the back of a brochure and right there and then, realized that I would in fact become a doctor, just not the kind I had originally planned. The DBH program is built on the premise that the mind and body are connected, you cannot treat one without the other. I studied entrepreneurship and the business side of this new way of viewing healthcare. I studied psychopharmacology so I would be able to recommend psychotropic medication to primary care providers I was working with. I learned how to work as part of a multi-disciplinary care team and how the brain works. Most importantly, I learned the vast connection between behavioral interventions and medical interventions when addressing chronic health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure or chronic pain. I witnessed how powerful talking to someone about how difficult it is to receive a new medical diagnosis and change their diet or take new medication was in helping them process and manage it. I have been able to practice this in a variety of settings from a healthcare clinic for the homeless to the Cystic Fibrosis team at Children’s Hospital Colorado. 

Now, I want to bring this into your home. I want to help you cope with whatever it is that is getting in the way of the life you want. I use a directive, evidence-based approach to develop applicable strategies that fit into your life to manage your health condition or distress.

Stay tuned for helpful information and tips. Thanks for reading!