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Fall and Mental Health: The Importance of Recognizing the Link

Each year, as the leaves begin to change and the days grow shorter, many people find themselves struggling with their mental health. In fact, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically begins in the fall and continues into the winter months. While SAD is the most well-known type of autumnal depression, there are other mental health conditions that can worsen during this time of year. Recognizing the link between fall and mental health is essential for understanding how to manage symptoms and get the help you need.


Types of Depression That Worsen in Fall/Winter


As mentioned, SAD is the most common type of seasonal depression, but it is not the only one. There are three other types of depression that tend to peak during the colder months: bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and dysthymia. Each of these disorders has its own unique set of symptoms, but all four can be triggered by changes in weather or daylight.


Managing Depression During Fall/Winter


If you suffer from any type of seasonal depression, there are a few things you can do to ease your symptoms:


-Get outside every day:

When possible, take a walk in nature or sit outside for a few minutes to get some sunlight. Sunlight exposure can help improve your mood and increase your vitamin D levels.


-Exercise regularly:

Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties. A moderate amount of exercise is key—over-exercising can actually worsen anxiety and depression symptoms.


-Eat a healthy diet:

Eating nutrient-rich foods helps your body function at its best and can improve your mood. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your diet.


-Make time for activities you enjoy:

Doing things you enjoy—such as reading, crafting, or spending time with friends—can help reduce stress and boost your mood.


-Talk to your doctor:

If self-care measures aren’t enough to manage your symptoms, talk to your doctor about whether medication or therapy might be right for you.


Fall is a beautiful time of year, but for many people, it’s also a difficult one. If you’re struggling with your mental health this season, know that you’re not alone. Millions of people deal with seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression each year. There are treatments available that can help ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you need help managing your mental health this fall, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for guidance.

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