Is your head filled with endless negative thoughts & self chatter over the colder months?
Do you often think about stuff that makes you feel sad or down? Thoughts and feelings swirl around inside your mind making you feel like life isn’t working; it’s not what you want or imagined it? And you start to feel at a loss what to do differently for things to change. Does this primarily happen over the autumn or winter? If you’re nodding your head, you may be dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD.)
NOTE. I’m not a doctor, nor am I a medical professional; I’m a researcher & writer. Please consult your medical professional for a medical diagnosis and expert advice on what to implement that’s right for you.
When we have negative thoughts that ruminate in our heads for too long, they can dramatically decrease the amount of happiness we feel. It is also true that when we stop doing activities that give us pleasure, including a reduction in physical activity, our moods usually drop. This is good to know because we can start to do behaviours that used to make us feel good to then begin to feel good again. The expression, fake it till you make it, applies here.
👉 Symptoms of SAD: Low mood; Persistent negative thoughts & feelings; Chronic fatigue; Low energy; Sleeping too much/too little; Craving Carbs; Overeating; Socially withdrawing; Weight gain; Lack of motivation; Trouble focusing; Physical pains, including headaches, joint pains, and even digestive problems.
👉 What is CBT? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a scientifically proven method to treat a variety of disorders from anxiety, depression & SAD, and trauma; CBT is a powerful arsenal for many therapists. The power of CBT is its ability to challenge negative thoughts and unhelpful behaviours. Challenging these thoughts and behaviours can then influence the emotions, thoughts, and behaviours that we exhibit. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life.
👉 How does CBT work? Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder essentially helps retrain the brain to challenge negative thoughts you have that seem to appear with the season. Challenging the negative thought, in turn, will result in behavioural modifications that can relieve the depressive episodes. And likewise, starting with behavioural modifications will also change your thinking and how you are feeling. What is great about Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder is that your therapist will often do both at the same time to help you feel better sooner and faster. Yay!
👉 Diagnosis: First, see your GP for a formal diagnosis and discuss treatments that are right for you.
👉 Where do you find a therapist that’s right for you? Online platforms like Talked make finding the right therapist for your needs easy.
👉 Alternatives to therapy: Behaviour Design & Habits coaches who are experts in mindset coaching would be an alternative to CBT therapy. Most coaches are not therapists and are often not expertly trained in the ways that therapists are. Even though I am a coach, I would recommend working with a therapist first or in conjunction with a coach for SAD specifically. If you would like to hire a coach to help with behaviour modification, you could try a Tiny Habits Coach or Coach.me.
👇 KEY LEARNINGS
💡 CBT for SAD helps to retrain the brain to challenge negative thoughts.
💡 By repeating actions that used to make you feel good, you will begin to feel good again over time.
💡 Fake it till you make it
💡 CBT works best in conjunction with exercise, light therapy, medication or supplements. Learn more about how— Exercise; Activities to increase Happiness; Supplements/Medication; Light Therapy; and Environment.
The tiniest changes can make the biggest difference when repeated consistently over time. All week I’ve been writing about Seasonal Affective Disorder and one thing you can learn about and implement each day to combat it. This is the final in the series!