Managing possible Seasonal Affective Disorder? It feels really hard to connect to people.
November 14, 2010 4:46 PM   Subscribe

I have been feeling really blah, negative and outrageously disconnected from the people I love lately. I'm pretty sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder because something like this happens every winter. How do I stop feeling so blah, stop feeling so disconnected and lonely when everyone is right there? How about a light box? Those are expensive though, is there any way I can make one or buy a light bulb that mimics natural light and put it in my room?

I dunno what else there is to say. I wanted to put all that stuff up front so everyone knows the full gist of this question which is basically how do I feel better.

I'm especially concerned about the feeling disconnected part. It's hard to explain. I just don't feel like I'm connecting with people.

I'm already on a bunch of anxiety meds that are also antidepressants... 50mg Zoloft, 100mg Wellbutrin, 30mg Buspar.. and then 1mg klonopin which is not an antidepressant.

I just started taking 2000 units of vitamin D today. Ummm. I walk a lot around campus every day, like more than a mile at least.

The weird part is I still feel really motivated and excited about things, like I still feel the need to do really well in school, I'm excited about next semester. I'm just having a lot of trouble relating to people and I feel bad. It might not be full blown depression but I still don't feel right and I want to change that. People are getting tired of me always being so negative which alienates them more.

I'm thinking instead of complaining to my friends about how lonesome/sad/whatever I am I could complain to a journal. But then I feel like that might just reinforce the negativity by making me write about it. I figure I could do that thing where you write three good things that happened because of you during the day. I could do both.

I dunno, I just want to feel better. And I'm really busy so more exercise isn't reaaaaalllllllllly an option.. unless walking faster to class or something counts.

Is it the fact I'm really busy? I am really busy. I take 18 credits at a school it takes me about an hour to get to, work 15-20 hours a week, volunteer with stuff... I want to take 18 credits next semester too because I'm excited but maybe that is contributing. Because more school=less time for friends.

I dunno. So, happy tricks, go!
posted by tweedle to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're doing the right things. Have you talked to your doctor about this issue specifically?

My mom has SAD pretty bad (what an acronym, right?) And the Vitamin D has helped her a lot. She also takes Fish Oil, and goes to a tanning booth. These three things helped her enormously last winter, I'd never seen her voluntarily do much of anything after work besides sleep every winter. But last winter she joined an archery club, went out to dinner...
posted by Caravantea at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2010

I went to grad school in the cold northeast and had bad SAD. I discovered that there were some really comfy chairs in the library by windows that faced south. I would sit in those chairs soaking up sunshine whenever I could doing my reading and writing- by hand, in pre-laptop days- and I think it really helped. Also finding an extra 30 minutes to exercise is really really good, you'll have more energy even if you sleep a little less.
posted by mareli at 5:14 PM on November 14, 2010

Buy a daylight corrected light to use where you do your homework if you can - I have a couple Ott lights in my studio - cheapest place to find them is often Joane Fabrics - people use them for sewing, art etc. Not as intense as a lightbox but I find it really helps me with winter blahs and since I work with them it's built into the schedule.
posted by leslies at 5:25 PM on November 14, 2010

You might find this AskMe from earlier this week to be helpful: Give me your best SAD hacks.
posted by ericb at 5:35 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I used a light box one year and it changed everything. Maybe you can find one cheap on the internet. I use it for about 20 minutes in the morning; it's worth the money, truly. I didn't even think I had SAD. It makes me feel as good as exercising. Always I'm depressed this time of the year, but not when I use one of those things. This is a hard time of year for many people.
posted by PersonAndSalt at 6:04 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

A light box is worth a try, certainly. They've helped a few people I know. There's contradictory research on exactly what you should look for in a light box (possibly not everyone needs the same thing?). Light intensity might be more important than spectrum.
posted by hattifattener at 6:25 PM on November 14, 2010

I've tried both the big white light box and the little blue one. I think the blue one helps me a lot more, and in less time. I have this one, which I bought on Ebay for $90 and have since seen go for as little as $60.

Oddly, the big white one seemed to help more with my circadian rhythm shift (aka can't fall asleep till real late, can't wake up till real late), but the mood element is more important to me.
posted by The Dutchman at 7:09 PM on November 14, 2010

I built one for myself- two 4-foot long, dual-bulb fluorescent lights on a timer. The bulbs are Sylvania Daylight (full spectrum, I believe) bulbs. The timer goes off in the morning to simulate sunrise.

Other advice- when I was on zoloft, I found the same de-socializing effect. Zoloft seems to have the effect of "making everything ok", which for me, and I suspect you, turns off the need to see and be engaged with people. Don't stop taking it without consulting your doctor, of course, but consider discussing it.
posted by gjc at 5:43 AM on November 15, 2010

Also, is it possible that one or more of your medications are interacting in a desocializing manner? It might be worth talking to your psychiatrist about adjusting the relative doses.

I get SAD too. Sometimes meditation helps, sometimes forcing myself to go out and do things around people helps, sometimes staying at home and moping helps.
posted by softlord at 4:43 PM on November 16, 2010

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