3 ways to avoid feeling SAD 😥 when we ‘fall back’ this weekend
SEATTLE — In the past month or so, have you started to crave more candy? Are you avoiding hanging out with friends? Are you feeling blue, and don’t know why?
Watch yourself. You may be showing signs of Seasonal Affected Disorder.
And it could get worse before it gets better.
What is SAD?
Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5. We’ll gain an extra hour of sleep but lose crucial daylight hours. Especially as we head toward the winter solstice.
The loss of daylight impacts mood for thousands of people, University of Washington’s Dr. Nina Maisterra says. Many are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder — a “subset of depression” characterized by fatigue, hopelessness and withdrawal.
The common disorder is spurred by low light in winter months. It can show itself in a variety of ways.
“People can start to feel having less energy, more appetite for carbohydrates and less appetite to hand out with friends,” Maisterra said.
While the disorder can worsen depression in people already diagnosed, some may be fine most of the year but feel depressed as sunlight wanes.
At its worst, SAD can lead to suicidal tendencies.
“It’s really important to note that this can get more and more serious,” Maisterra said, noting one should always reach out to a health care provider if they feel depressed.
Keeping SAD away
There a few different ways to keep SAD away during the winter months, Maisterra says.
Individuals can seek therapy; usually cognitive behavioral therapy. They can also begin a regimen of medication, usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), at the recommendation of their doctors.
There are less encompassing steps, too. Individuals who suffer from SAD can use a special light boxes. The boxes, which start around $100, produce bright light that mimics the sun's rays.
Sitting in front of the box for 20 minutes a day can help your mood.
"Usually that will help to replace some of the sunlight that people are missing," Maisterra says.
Adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet can also help fight SAD, Maisterra says.
Like anything, it usually helps for the sufferer to begin a vitamin or light regime before they feel the acute effects of SAD. Being proactive is an important step in fighting SAD, Maisterra says.
Not just SAD
Turning the clocks back can impact more than just mood. A 2012 British study found kids got more exercise during the longer summer day.
The clock changes can also raise the risk of accidents by sleep-deprived motorists. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1996 reporting an 8% increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the spring shift.
More and more, Americans wonder if Daylight Saving Time is "worth the hassle." A 2014 Rasmussen poll found that 33 percent of adults think it's a good thing. That's down from 37 percent in 2013.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Washington State Senate to end Daylight Saving Time. The bill did not turn into law.