For some, the holidays bring hard feelings, triggered by an empty chair or times of personal financial struggle. But experts suggest this may be more than a moment of melancholy, especially if these emotions emerge year after year.

If you or your loved one experience unhappy holidays more than usual, it could be linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the National Institutes of Health, SAD is a form of depression occurring during specific seasons. It is cyclical; for some, certain times of the year remind us of difficult or tragic events. While people experience this condition at various times of the year, many feel blue during the winter months — often due to a reduction in sunlight.

This condition isn’t to be confused with the “winter blues,” which is transient. SAD is a true form of depression, and therapies prescribed by a primary care provider go much further than consulting self-help books and inspirational blogs alone.

How seniors can stand up to SAD
SAD is most commonly diagnosed in young adults. However, older adults and seniors are more likely to experience depression in general. Many people have adopted the notion that sadness is a part of the aging process; this is definitely not true. When winter isn’t wonderful anymore, seniors should shake these falsehoods and fight back with treatment and a few tips to help thaw the ice from your heart.

Find rest in a routine. Many people struggling with depression distance themselves from their daily schedules. Sure, it feels overwhelming to block out your calendar for every single event, occasion or task, but maintaining these essentials can help you cut a reliable path through the tall woods of uncertainty.
Make time for nutritious meals. If cooking is a chore, ask a friend for an easy recipe, or opt for slow cookers and other kitchen appliances for easy meal preparation. If energy isn’t within reach, meal delivery services can help.
Prioritize self-care. Trying a new shampoo in your favorite scent, buying a new razor or trimmer, or getting a different hair cut or style can be a good pick-me up when starting a new routine.
Schedule quiet time or prayer. This is an empowering way to set personal boundaries, rekindle one’s faith, and ease the mind and spirit in addition to support from a trusted therapist. Try just a few minutes a day and build up from there.

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