June 24, 2017

Household Fixes that can Lessen Seasonal Depression

light therapy for depressionAre you a typically happy person experiencing the winter blues? Do you cope with depression on a regular basis but find it unmanageable during the winter? You may be experiencing SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a temporary increase in feelings of depression and despondency during the coldest, darkest months of the year. Although not entirely understood, the disorder is commonly believed to be primarily caused by lack of sunlight and light exposure. Even if you are a considerably cheery and optimistic individual, you may find yourself lacking motivation, energy, and your usual high spirits as the sunlight hours become shorter. Don’t worry, seasonal depression is very common; more importantly, it can be lessened with a few doctor-recommended tips that can be easily incorporated into your home.        

Improve Your Light

If you have been diagnosed with seasonal depression, you may have learned that lack of sunlight is one of, if not the primary contributor to the disorder. Because your body is not exposed to nearly as much light during the winter months as it is during the rest of the year, the chemicals triggered in your body by sunlight will also be lacking. These chemicals include brain those affecting your brain like serotonin, and hormones like melatonin, both of which are necessary in overcoming depression and boosting your mood.

Because natural light from the sun is essential to the release of these chemicals, SAD specialists recommend a winter alternative. A variety of personal SAD lights that imitate the sun’s rays and release the same chemicals are available. These lights do not entirely compensate for the sun; however, they have proven successful for many individuals in adjusting their moods. One downside to these lights is that they require about 45 minutes each day of direct, constant exposure. Another option is to install full spectrum light bulbs in your home. Although they aren’t as powerful as personal lights, they are easy to install and can boost your mood as you go about your daily duties without a large time commitment.

Maintain Proper Air Quality

Research shows that poor air quality can contribute to depression. Although it is not linked specifically to seasonal depression, the air you breathe can make you feel worse during the winter months if your furnace has not been cleaned or furnace filter replaced. Even with an increase in pollutants and contamination in the air outside, indoor air is considered to be about five times worse! This is no surprise considering the dust, mold, grime, and human activity that build up in an average home, with no rain or wind to wash it away. If you’re a home renter, you probably don’t want to imagine how many others have touched your walls, carpets, and porcelain throne. Luckily, there are some things within your control that will lessen the debris in your home.

1. Toxic Chemicals

Choose cleaning chemicals, paint, and carpet that do not exude toxicity and that will keep you and your family physically healthy. Remember, the air you breathe goes inside your body. It can and will affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

2. Furnace Filters

During the winter season, when your furnace is turned on, check the furnace filter and air ducts for cleanliness regularly. Furnace filters should be replaced often—every one to three months depending on the quality of the filter. It is a good idea to have a professional perform a furnace and duct cleaning if you are in Canada, Minnesota, or any other area which is extremely cold for months on end. Keeping your air clean will keep your body and mind clean, which will allow your body to process the anti-depression hormones and chemicals that keep you cheerful during the winter.

3. Mold & Bacteria

Just as mold and bacteria can give you a bad case of allergies over the summer, they will also decrease your energy level and darken your mood as they continue to affect your home’s air during the winter months. Essentially, the better you treat your body the better you’ll feel both physically and mentally. Eliminating poor air quality is an important step to improving overall mental health and feeling great all winter long.  

 Author Byline:

Drew Kobb, in addition to studying civil law, loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch, and for companies like Arpi’s Industries Ltd.