Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression that affects millions of Americans during the colder winter months. SAD symptoms include oversleeping, lack of energy, overeating, and isolating yourself from friends and family. If you are recovering from a compulsive gambling disorder, SAD can make you vulnerable to a relapse, especially during periods of extensive self-isolation due to COVID. Here are some practical things you can do to reduce your SAD symptoms and your risk of relapsing.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: If you feel that you are struggling to stay strong throughout this season, please do not hesitate to seek help. Therapists can teach you healthy ways to cope with SAD that will help you steer clear of relapse, such as how to change negative thoughts and how to manage stress.
- Support Groups: Maybe you aren’t a part of a support group yet, or maybe you haven’t been in awhile, but they can be highly beneficial. You are not alone in this journey, and support groups can be a great way to connect with people who are going through similar things as you. Consider attending an online meeting if your area does not provide in-person gatherings during this time.
- Light Therapy: SAD can be linked to a lack of natural light and Vitamin D, which is why light therapy proves to be quite effective. It involves sitting in front of a UV light box for about 20 minutes a day in order to simulate sunlight and give your body the Vitamin D that it needs.
- Medication: In some cases, antidepressants that have an increase in serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help ease symptoms of SAD; however, we would recommend trying the other treatment ideas before resorting to medication, as it can have troublesome side effects or result in dependence.
Although professional treatment is likely the most effective, there are also some very practical habits and activities that you can implement from home which can greatly reduce your symptoms of SAD, such as:
- Spending time outside
- Eating a balanced diet, and taking vitamin supplements
- Opening the blinds in your house to get more natural light
- Spend time with friends and family
While these activities may not be what you feel like doing when you are struggling with SAD, you may be surprised at how much they can positively impact your thoughts and mood. Although it may be tempting to gamble and as a distraction from the feelings that come with SAD, it will only make your symptoms more painful in the long run.
If you or someone you love struggles with a gambling disorder, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We recognize that COVID-19 can added additional stress and depression, and if you need support during this time, we are here for you and can help you find a treatment plan that is right for you.