For many people, as the leaves begin to change and the days become cooler and darker, a corresponding change in mood occurs. This is a time of seasonal changes and life transitions and for some, an added difficulty managing mood and anxiety.
Difficulty with mood during autumn and winter may be symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that follows the pattern of developing in the autumn, continuing through the winter but resolving in the spring. We know that SAD is real and is thought to be at least in part related to the lowered availability of sunlight.
Back to school stressors
Your changes in mood may not be due exclusively to the change in weather and availability of sunlight. October is a month of big changes and transitions.
For children, teenagers, and young adults, the changes in season can cause difficulties because not everyone enjoys the academic and social challenges that school brings. Young adults in college and university face an even greater challenge due to the high financial cost and pressure to perform. College and university can bring substantial stress and when combining external challenges with cold weather and little time outside in nature, the effects can bring on sadness and negative mood.
Tips that can help with SAD and life changes
There are things you can do to help both SAD and reducing stress related to life transitions.
- Get as much sunlight as possible. Open the curtains and drapes in your house to let in as much light as possible
- Talk to your doctor and then begin a regular exercise program to combat depression
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Take steps to manage stress, if you are not sure how to do this, speaking to a therapist will help you learn coping strategies and techniques that will help manage stress naturally
- Reach out to others, if you are struggling with life transitions, joining groups and building social connections can be helpful
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is helpful for SAD and taking control of your mood and anxiety levels during life’s changes. CBT builds coping skills and is effective for coping with life transitions and stressors. Speaking with a psychotherapist can also help heal past trauma or self-esteem issues that are causing difficulties in your life now. If you are struggling with your mood and anxiety, it is important to reach out for help as effective therapeutic methods are available.