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I have depression (seasonal) and was just wondering if anyone has found ways to get out of those particularly bad days

By Anonymous April 6, 2009 - 6:44pm
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I exercise fairly regularly and talk to a counselor, but neither seem to help on the days I feel really down. I also try to get extra sunlight, but because I live in Montana this time of the year there isn't a whole lot available. I also would prefer not to take medication if at all possible. I feel like I'm starting to run out of options so if you know of anything that might help me get out of the ruts I tend to get sucked into I would greatly appreciate it.

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I used to suffer from SAD and very bad, but never officially diagnosed for 20 years. Because I lived in rainy Vancouver, SAD would affect me just about all year round. I learned about SAD thru a friend and I began doing bright light therapy, which kept me functioning just enough to get thru a dark day.

I began having suicidal thoughts last year, in Feb. 2009, so I went to see my doctor. I was scared and I thought I was losing my mind. And in a way I was losing my mind, as I had marked loss of coginitive function and marked attention deficit; that is, I couldn't read or write anymore. I don't believe I have ever felt more distressed and anxious in my life, when I realised that this could put an end to my education. I dropped out of my elective courses and pleaded with the university to let me drop my mandatory course (Statistics for Psychology) without penalty.

My GP at my university clinic sent me to the psychology department, also at our university, for better assessment and counselling. But, she was certain I had "a touch of SAD," so she recommended I take vitamin D. To make a long story short, I began researching about it intensively (and still do!). I found out about Dr. Holick, Grass Roots Health, and several studies on vit. D.

I'm pleased to say that I no longer suffer from SAD. And as you can see for yourselves, my cognition has been restored. My experience with SAD does support what Dr. Sorenson says about vit. D and its link to the nervous system and our feel-good hormones.

I hope you all find a solution as I have. Best wishes,

February 28, 2010 - 7:49am
(reply to Mayuka Seki)

Thank you for sharing your story! It's wonderful that you have had such great success, and we hope to hear from you again.

February 28, 2010 - 2:49pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Thanks, Alison. :)

February 28, 2010 - 3:24pm

I can completely relate to you considering I live in a northern state. The winters do get to be quite long and depressing.
First off, I have been fortunate to afford a winter vacation to a sunny warm climate. Generally, we plan between feb and march. Not only does the planning and anticipation keep my spirits up, but the week of sunshine and relaxation does a world of wonder for my spirits. Even if you are to make it to one of our sunny states. (we generally go to either Mexico or the Caribbean) AS LONG AS IT IS WARMER AND S U N N Y. As well as just time to relax and get away. :)

Secondly, have you considered investing in a therapeutic light? I purchased one 8 years ago. The cost was roughly 300 dollars but worth every penny. You may be able to have it covered by insurance. It DOES make a difference if used religiously. There are various makers. I purchased mine from a company out of Alaska (go figure). The company is reputable. You can also get replacement lights for your light box when needed. (sorry, don't have the link to the site at present. I am sure it could be found via GOOGLE).

Don't be afraid to go on an antidepressant for this time either. Don't let your pride get in the way. Better living through modern chemistry. And yes, exercising to increase your natural endorphins is also a benefit.

I truly am the posterchild for SADD (seasonal affective disorder). It CAN be concured. Life is too short to be miserable!



April 11, 2009 - 10:49am

Dear anon,
If this helps to hear, I am yet another person who has down-days. Do not become trapped into a mindset that believes you should not experience times of depression. Sometime seeking out the cure requires a search for the cause, which may lead to an even heavier sense of depression. Having a handful of choices as to how to help get through a particularly difficult day is what works best for me. Some days talking helps, or a walk, or escaping into a well-written novel. I also practice yoga, and inversion poses, where the head is hanging down, do two wonderful things: physically forces the blood to flow in a typically opposite direction and helps release muscles we unknowingly tense while upset, and mentally gives us a new perspective. My first introduction to yoga came to me through a kit called "Yoga in a box" by Cindy Lee. She has a wonderfully soothing voice as well as insightfully gentle comments that encourage us to listen to ourselves and simply be okay with where we are in the moment.
Keep hope in your heart and think happy thoughts.
Blessed be and be well.

April 10, 2009 - 6:29am

Hi, Anon:

We are all susceptible to seasonal depression, whether it's weather related or holiday triggered. Like Alison, I tend to seek out a friend or my sister to talk to, and try to see the lighter side of life rather than focus on what's making me feel so down.

Treating yourself well can also help lift your spirits. This may mean wearing a bright, "happy" color, buying yourself a bunch of flowers, clearing the clutter surrounding you in your home or workplace, or paying off a a credit card account.

Please remember we're all here to listen and help, so you're never alone.

April 7, 2009 - 4:46pm

Hi anon,
I'm not sure if this helps or not, but on my particularly down days, here is what I do:

1. Talk with a friend. Do you have a good support system of family and friends? There may be others who are affected by seasonal depression, and sharing your feelings with them could help.
2. What type of exercise do you enjoy? Some days I want to blast my MP3 player loud with inspirational or other music, and run on the treadmill. If I'm down, taking a fun dance class (I love Zumba) can lift your spirits.
3. Try something new. Keep an ongoing written list of new things you'd like to try: food, museum, mall, trail, park, pool, gym, restaurant, sport, activity, craft...you name it...and on a down day, get out of the door and try one!
4. See a funny movie. I have a few movies that I love, either a romantic funny comedy or just a silly, funny comedy. Watch a DVD or go to the theater, and it really helps to laugh!

April 7, 2009 - 1:53pm
EmpowHER Guest

I found this suggestion in a book about health and started to use it last September as I get depressed during the winter months in Ohio. The book suggested that you buy a small flashlight with the brightest bulb you can find. Place the flashlight in the middle of your forehead and turn it on and hold it there for three minutes in the morning when you wake up and three minutes at night just before going to sleep. You are essentially flooding your brain with light. I must confess that I couldn't seem to remember to do this in the morning before I got out of bed, so I adjusted the time to five minutes each night before going to sleep. This technique has helped me tremendously over the last winter months as I find my attitude is much more positive. I figure that if it wasn't working, I would have forgotten to use the technique. And, personally, even if there is no scientific evidence that it can make a difference, it works for me, does no harm, and only costs the price of batteries, and five minutes of quiet time. Lillian (wisdom can be found in the most unexpected places)

April 7, 2009 - 1:38pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Lillian, what you said about bright light just proves what I have always said: You don't need $300-units with 10,000 lux of light to get the benefits of bright light. This is such an affordable and practical method to test whether or not BLT is the right thing course of treatment for SAD sufferers. Thanks for sharing this!

I would love for other people to learn about your experience with this particular method.


[personal website link removed by Moderator, per posting guidelines]

February 28, 2010 - 3:26pm

Dear Anon, thank you for sharing your concern and hope to help with a couple of suggestions. First of all, you are right about sunlight, it is known to help improve symptoms of seasonal depression because it helps with production of vitamin D. Recent studies show that daily exposure to sunlight for 20-30 minutes should give a person a nice daily dose of this essential vitamin (that is without any sunblock creams). Unfortunately many Americans are defficient of vitamin D and data includes people living in the Sun Belt States like Arizona, so you are not alone in Montana. Here are a couple of things I suggest you do on a daily basis:

1. Deep breathing exercises at least 10 minutes daily
2. Meditation or contemplation for 30 minutes - the practice of mindfulness is very healing
3. Observe your thought pattern and turn around thoughts that are not positive. Try finding ways to laugh or reasons to smile.
4. Eat healthy foods, avoid caffeine and alcohol during those days when symptoms are present. Try chammomille or other calming tea.
5. Daily intake of vitamin D (1000 IUs as a minimum)
6. GABA or SAMe supplements
7. St John's Wort is great for mild depression symptoms, it needs 2 weeks to get into your system before you notice its beneficial effects.

Wish you well.

April 6, 2009 - 8:59pm
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