The winter of 2013/14 was a particularly brutal winter here in Montreal. The cold weather started earlier than usual and went on and on. It seemed to be a never ending winter. That year, I had an unprecedented amount of clients suffering with depression. I had already had a sneaky suspicion that adults with ADHD were more prone to get SAD than the non-ADHD population, and a little research backed up my hunch.
You are more likely to experience SAD if you have ADHD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression. It is triggered by the reduction of sunlight and colder temperatures that come with the change of seasons. These environmental changes spark a change in your circadian rhythm.
When it’s dark, the sleep related hormone, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin can also cause depressive symptoms. With the shorter days and longer nights of winter, more melatonin is produced.
If you have SAD, there are things you can do to help. The bonus is that many of them help with your ADHD too!
1.Take Omega 3 Supplements
Ok, now you probably think I am obsessed with these! but omega 3 helps keep good levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Not only do those neurotransmitters help you to focus, concentrate, increase your memory, etc., they also keep you feeling happy and depression symptoms at bay.
2. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
There is a connection between low vitamin D levels and ADHD as well as low levels of vitamin D and SAD. You can get your Vitamin D levels checked with your doctor.
3. Get a Light Box
Using a light box every day for 30 minutes is very helpful as the light curbs the release of melatonin. Do a quick google search to find a supplier in your area. Don’t wait until you start to feel depressed to use it. Start as soon as the evenings start to lengthen in the early fall.
Stress and anxiety both make depression worse. The good news is that exercise helps reduce both! Exercise also helps your ADHD, so even if you don’t feel like moving, you will feel so much better afterwards.
5. Go Outdoors
Even though it’s cold, still go outside (without your shades) for 10 minutes or more a day. The daylight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and increase your serotonin and dopamine levels. You could even combine your exercise time with outdoors time.
6. Eat a Clean Diet
One of the symptoms of SAD is eating more starches and sugar than usually. It is a way to self-medicate. When you eat carbs, you get an increase in dopamine and you feel better. However, the feeling good is short lived and can often lead to weight gain and fatigue; which makes you feel worse. Instead, eat a clean, healthy ADHD-friendly diet with a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein.
Depression plays havoc on your sleep cycle. You can find yourself barely sleeping or sleeping way too much. However the suggestions will help.
8. See a Therapist
Talk therapy is always a great way to proactively manage your stress and anxiety. To find a therapist in your area, visit: http://therapists.
9. Anti-Depressant Medications
Visit your doctor and discuss your symptoms with them. Anti-depressants might be part of your treatment plan. The Serotonin Selective Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) group are known to be especially effective for SAD.
10. Don’t drink
Drinking alcohol can feel good in the moment, but like eating starch and sugar, the good feelings are only temporary. Also, hangovers from drinking increases anxiety and depression.
Do you have SAD? What have you found helpful? leave a note in the comments so other readers can try it too!