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Learning to Cope (and Stay Healthy) While Dealing With Seasonal Depression

Some people love the winter and welcome the opportunity to indulge in hot chocolate and warm fires or get outside and play in the snow. But for some people, the change in season brings more than just shorter, darker days, it also brings with it seasonal depression, also known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

While most people complain about the shorter days and the bad weather of winter or dream about the sun shining full time and warm weather, this isn't seasonal depression— it is just the winter blues that make them more depressed, but still functional. Seasonal depression has the same symptoms as clinical depression: an inability to cope with daily life, a lack of interest in usual activities and hobbies, trouble sleeping and eating, drop in energy and generally dwelling on the negative. For people with seasonal depression, the symptoms end when spring comes around and the warmer weather and longer days create a burst of excessive energy.

If think that you are experiencing seasonal depression or SAD, you should seek medical treatment. Both those who dislike winter and those with a medical condition tend to crave carbs, which leads to weight gain. Instead of giving into cravings, check out the "Winter Blues" diet that SAD expert Beyond changing your diet, it is important that you make the most of what daylight does occur during the winter. Get outside, soak up the sun, take a walk and don't skimp on physical activity.

Exercise can help create positive hormone levels in the brain to help reduce symptoms of depression. And if there are activities that you enjoy during the warmer months, then find a substitute for them during the time of year that you can't indulge. For instance, if you love gardening and can't wait to churn up some dirt, then read up on seeds and start making plans. If you love the beach, perhaps take a virtual tour of the world's best beaches. While seasonal depression occurs mostly during the winter, for areas of the world that experience more sunny days, some people in those regions actually experience seasonal depression in the summer. Exposure to air conditioning and dimmer lighting can help control those symptoms.

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