7 Ways to Treat and Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Chronic Pain

It’s the holiday season.

That means Christmas lights are shining and the sun is hiding — at least for those who live where winter is a season. 

Reduced sun exposure can lead to a drop in your body’s Vitamin D levels and contribute to a form of clinical depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

Here are some effective treatment and management Options for SAD:

1. Get Your Chronic Pain Treated

Medical experts think that depression and chronic pain share the same neural pathways and are fundamentally linked.

So, if you suffer from chronic pain, your risk for depression is higher. 

Chronic pain can affect you psychologically by making you lose sleep, reducing your mobility and functioning, and cutting down on your time with loved ones.

Seeing a management specialist (an expert in treating chronic pain) who can prescribe medications and treatments may be the best way to address your chronic pain problem.

2. Try Phototherapy or Light Therapy

Sunlight can potentially affect your mood for the better, and light that mimics sunlight can, too.

With phototherapy or light therapy, all you have to do is wake up and sit next to a device that emits at least 10,000 lux of white light for a half-an-hour to forty-five minutes a day. 

It typically takes a couple of weeks to start working and can be a compliment or alternative to other therapies and antidepressant medication.

3. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of “talk therapy” based on the theory that psychological problems are due to wrong ways of thinking and learned behavior patterns. 

Cognitive Behavioral therapists train patients to better handle psychological problems by teaching them how to change their thought patterns. 

4. Take Melatonin Supplements

At the chemical level, SAD happens due to interruption to the body’s production of hormones, including the hormone melatonin.

Melatonin helps regulate your body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm).

Taking a melatonin supplement may help regulate your sleep pattern during the short winter days. 

5. Take Vitamin D Supplements 

Research suggests there’s a link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression.

The body has one way of producing Vitamin D on its own: The skin must have sun exposure.

The alternative for getting enough Vitamin D is through diet and supplements, and it’s hard for many people to get enough Vitamin D through diet alone.

Taking Vitamin D supplements can help increase Vitamin D in your body and decrease SAD symptoms.

Medical experts have suggested the upper limit for dietary Vitamin D intake is 4,000 IU or 100 mcg for adults.

6. Get Some Winter Exercise

It’s easy to be less active when it’s cold outside – unless you live somewhere with tons of outdoor winter activities like Aspen, Colorado.

Signing up for a local gym or heading outside for good old-fashioned walking, running, or hiking can keep SAD away by helping you feel better and sleep better. You can also do yoga for general anxiety or stress online to improve mental health.

Also, resistance or weight training can increase your testosterone levels, reducing depression and anxiety. 

7. Take Antidepressants 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), fluoxetine, and bupropion are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. These medications work to reduce depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

But if you decide to take antidepressants, it’s critical to know the risks:

  • Antidepressants can cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them suddenly or miss several doses.
  • Teenagers and adults under 25 may have increased suicidal thoughts when on antidepressants.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment in Texas

If you have SAD or think you may be experiencing symptoms, please don’t hesitate to call Texas Pain Physicians. We can help you.

Give us a call today at (972) 636-5727 or book an appointment online.