Yearly Mental Health Check-up: Are You Sad, or SAD?

Mental Health

Mental Health

At I Choose Change, we encourage change that lasts a lifetime. That’s why every month, we’ll take a closer look at the issues that affect you and your family. In January, we’ll focus on resolutions and starting over, then we’ll switch gears and delve into doing the right thing and justice. I Choose Change serves all of Allen, Plano, McKinney, Wylie, Lucas, Sachse and Fairview, and we offer online and email counseling across the globe. ​Contact us here for more information.

Mental HealthJanuary can be dark, dreary, and cold. You may find yourself more tired than usual, maybe listless, and experience a change in mood. While it’s common to experience a dip in mood after the holidays, there are different types of depression that can occur, and they need to be treated in different ways. A ​Dallas area therapist ​can help you work through these feelings and understand where they’re coming from. Part of the idea of “out with the old, in with the new” as a new year begins is recommitting yourself to good mental health and facing what’s going on in your heart and mind.

Mental Health

Understanding the Science Behind SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, causes depression based on seasonal changes that can result in physical symptoms such as reduced energy, trouble in concentration, increased appetite and weight gain, self-imposed isolation, and desire to sleep more than normal. This basically covers all the symptoms of regular depression, but is caused for different reasons. However, some scientists think that SAD can also be ​impacted by chemical causes​ such as reduced light during the winter, which leads to the brain producing less serotonin which regulates mood. SAD can be diagnosed by a professional, but not everyone who feels down is necessarily afflicted.

Mental Health

When You’re Sad, but Not SAD

Having the blues isn’t always caused by chemical imbalances. You may just be emotionally drained and dragged down. Facing life after the ups and downs of the holidays and pressure to complete a hectic to-do list leaves slow-down shock. However, you can still benefit from therapy, and the best time to seek it out is during periods like these. There are also family counseling options. Don’t forget that you may not be alone in these feelings. Your spouse may also be feeling the brain drain, as well as children. Kids who are on winter vacation may be happy not to be in school, but regardless of age, no one is exempt from the post-holiday blues. Be kind to yourself and ​validate your own feelings​ by acknowledging them.

Mental Health

What You Can Do

Besides talk therapy, there are also other options that can give you a boost. For example, ​Health.com​ suggests that getting outside can help lift mood a great deal. Not only does this increase your exposure to light, but it prevents a slump in healthy physical activity. It’s easy to become complacent in the winter since you’re often stuck inside. Getting outdoors to participate in a winter sport or simply to take a long walk can make a huge difference in your mood. Exercise also encourages the production of endorphins.

Mental Health

Treatment of Different Types of Depression

There are innumerable reasons for why mood is dramatically affected different times of the year. Whether you’re experiencing a major life event, the ​pressure of fulfilling New Year’s resolutions​, or dealing with ongoing clinical depression escalated by wintertime, there are other reasons that depression can set in by January. This also means there are multiple types of treatment. Medication is for mental conditions that need to be prescribed by a psychiatrist, but usually talk therapy goes hand-in-hand with pharmaceuticals. That’s where Allen family counseling​ comes in. On the other hand, if you’re not suffering from SAD or clinical depression, you may benefit more from talk therapy alone. Counseling offers many different options, including both ​individual and family sessions​.​ You may find that’s all you need.

Winter affects everyone differently and may cause depression in varying degrees, possibly in combination with other elements. However, what’s important is being honest with yourself. The firststep is admitting that you’re feeling down, and then getting the support you need in order to maintain balance in your mental health.

Mental Health

About the Author:

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer has spent over 12 years in private practice working with individuals, couples, and parents who are faced with kid-drama, mamma-drama, and family-drama, and she claims that although some stories make a grown woman cry, she loves it.
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