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Coping with Seasonal Depression 101: A Q&A with Anne Chambers, MOLAP Director

Winter is officially here, and it’s a time when seasonal depression can present itself. Here, Anne Chambers, director of The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program, offers some insight into the condition and how Missouri lawyers can seek support in dealing with it. 

How would you describe seasonal depression to someone who has never experienced it? 

Seasonal depression is sometimes referred to as the winter blues or its former clinical term, SAD, for seasonal affective disorder.  Symptoms tend to arrive and recede around the same time each year, with mood lowering as days grow darker and lifting in the spring or summer. Seasonal depression is more than the post-holiday blues. People with this pattern of depression typically experience normal mental health the rest of the year. Many people report feeling depressed during the cold months, when there is less daylight.  

 What are some of the most common symptoms?  

Commons signs of seasonal depression are sadness, loss of energy, tirednesssleeping excessively, and changes in eating habits, such as craving carbohydrates, overeating and weight gain. Some experience anxiety or irritability and feelings of hopelessnessSadness and tiredness can make it more difficult to concentrate, focus, get out of bed and off to work in the morning, accomplish day-to-day activities and enjoy your daily life.    

When should someone see a professional about seasonal depression? 

Depression is treatable. Most people who seek assistance for depression start to feel better in a matter of weeks. It’s important to speak with your doctor or another professional any time you think you are experiencing depression. Get help if you are feeling overwhelmed; your quality of work or life is impacted; you feel miserable; or if feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness creep in. Many people obtain help for seasonal depression. Professional treatments include counseling and medication. Reaching out for help is an act of hope. Treatment can be game-changing, and sometimes lifesaving. 

What are some other additional treatments?  

In addition to counseling and medication, treatments include light therapy, exercise and increased outdoor activity.  Here are some strategies to cope with seasonal depression:  

  • Brighten your day.  Get an extra boost of sunshine by opening the blinds, sitting near a window or venturing outside.  

  • Boost mood with exerciseSome people take up winter sports or exercise in a well-lit area.  

  • Spend time outdoorsWhile this can be tough in the winter, doing so can boost your spirits.  

  • Lighten your mood with upbeat music.  

  • ServeThe satisfaction of losing yourself in service to others can lift mood and offers a shift in perspective.  

  • Start planning your next vacation nowDoing so boosts happiness. Some try a mid-winter vacation in a warm, sunny location for a brief reprieve.  

Click here for more information about SAD. 

Depression is treatable. For confidential screening, please contact the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-688-7859. You deserve to feel good about yourself and the work you do.