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How to Overcome Seasonal Depression

Many people notice a change in mood when the seasons change. Feeling a little down is typical when the days become shorter and the temperature drops. However, for some people, this feeling is known as seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it goes beyond simply being a seasonal slump. If you or someone you know is struggling with seasonal depression, this guide can help you understand what it is and how to deal with it.

overcoming seasonal depression - cwtherapy

What is Seasonal Depression?

Depression that occurs annually at the same time, typically in the fall or winter, is known as seasonal depression. It goes deeper than simply being depressed by the cold and darkness outside. Seasonal depression causes noticeable alterations in a person's behaviour, energy level, and mood.

Although the exact cause of seasonal depression is unknown, variations in the quantity of daylight we experience are likely to be a contributing factor. Reduced sunshine can alter our circadian rhythm, or internal clock, and modify the levels of chemicals in our brains that influence mood and sleep, such as melatonin and serotonin.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of SAD?

The first step in receiving treatment for seasonal depression is identifying its symptoms. These are a few typical symptoms:

  • Feeling down most of the day, almost all the time: This goes beyond simply being depressed. It could feel like a hefty burden that you are unable to release.

  • Losing interest in something you once enjoyed doing: Interests, social interactions, and even spending time with loved ones may become boring.

  • Fatigue or lack of energy: You might feel exhausted and lethargic even after getting enough sleep.

  • Sleep issues: Oversleeping or difficulty falling and staying asleep are common examples of sleep difficulties.

  • Changes in appetite or weight: Some may experience weight gain by eating more, particularly when seeking carbohydrates, while others may experience appetite loss.

  • A hopeless or worthless feeling: These thoughts can be intense and overwhelming.

  • Hard to concentrate: Focusing on tasks or remembering things can be difficult.

  • Suicidal or death-related thoughts: It's critical to get help right away if you experience these kinds of ideas.

Is There Treatment for Seasonal Depression?

Yes, seasonal depression can be treated in a variety of ways. Speak with a healthcare provider to determine your best course of action. The following are a few typical therapies:

  • Light therapy: To do this, you must sit in front of a unique light box that simulates sunlight. It can lift your spirits and help you reset your internal clock. Every morning, it takes roughly thirty minutes to complete.

  • Medications: Drugs that lower your risk of depression can assist your brain's chemical equilibrium. If this is right for you, your doctor can help you find the right prescription at the correct dosage.

  • Counselling: Talking to a therapist can help you manage your symptoms. Seasonal depression responds quite well to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It can teach you how to change negative thought patterns and behaviours.

  • Vitamin D: Some people find taking a vitamin D supplement beneficial. Winter reduces our exposure to sunshine, which may impact our mood.

  • Exercise: Getting regular exercise can enhance your energy and attitude. Even a little daily stroll could have a significant impact.

  • Healthy diet: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and a balance of these nutrients will improve your general well-being.

  • Stay connected: Getting together with loved ones, even when you don't feel like it, can make you feel better. Social support is essential.

  • Keep a routine: Maintaining a consistent schedule for your meals, sleep, and activities might help you feel more emotionally stable. Even on weekends, make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

  • Steer clear of alcohol and drugs: These might exacerbate depression. Stick to healthy habits instead.

  • Relaxation techniques: Activities that promote calmness and happiness include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.

cw therapy - how to overcome seasonal depression

How to Deal with Seasonal Depression

It's not recommended to try to get through seasonal depression on your own. Speak with a healthcare professional who can assist you in determining the best course of action. These suggestions can help you with managing your symptoms:

  • Get outside: Getting outside for some daylight and fresh air can be beneficial - even on overcast days. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day.

  • Let in the light: Open your blinds and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. When you’re indoors, sit near windows.

  • Stay active: Being active can elevate your mood! Make fitness a regular part of your schedule by finding an exercise you enjoy.

  • Stay connected: Talk to a friend who knows your situation or join a support group.

  • Plan fun activities: Having something to look forward to can help you get through the tough days. Plan outings, try new hobbies, or take small trips.

  • Take care of your sleep: Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Establish a calming nighttime routine and avoid electronics before bed.

  • Limit stress: Stress can make depression worse. Make time to unwind and take breaks as needed.

  • Be patient: Don't give up if you don't feel better immediately. Continue sticking to your treatment plan and give it time to take effect.

Additional Tips for Managing Seasonal Depression

  • Stay warm and cozy: Wearing warm clothing, curling up with a blanket, or sipping hot liquids can all be soothing during chilly weather. Making your surroundings comfortable might make you feel more at ease and calm.

  • Try volunteering: Your mood might be lifted and you can feel purposeful when you help others. Seek opportunities to help a subject you are passionate about or volunteer in your neighbourhood.

  • Set small goals: Achieving little but attainable goals will boost your confidence and encourage you to keep going. Honour your accomplishments, regardless of how minor they may appear!

  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help you maintain your sense of balance and present-moment awareness. These techniques help lessen stress and enhance general well-being.

  • Stay informed: Learning about seasonal depression might help you feel more in control of your situation and improve your understanding of it. 

Although seasonal depression can be difficult, it is treatable with the correct care and support. Remember, there are many ways to feel better and that you are not alone in this journey. Seek help when needed, look after yourself, and know that happier times are coming.

By trying these strategies and sticking with a compassionate approach, you can navigate the challenges of seasonal depression and find ways to feel more like yourself again. 

Our team is here to support you. Ready to learn more? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with one of our therapists today. Click here to book an appointment.


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